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Tennis in Birmingham

Posted in News on July 8, 2012 No comments

Although Andy Murray wasn’t able to stop Roger Federer winning his 7th Wimbledon Championship, Birmingham can be proud of its tennis connections.
In 1859 Birmingham Solicitor Harry Gem and his friend, Spanish merchant JBA Perera, used the size of the croquet lawn in Perera’s Ampton Road home in Edgbaston and drafted the rules for the game of lawn tennis.
They set up the first lawn tennis club in Leamington Spa, but were also members of Edgbaston Archery and Lawn Tennis Society, which is the oldest lawn tennis club in the world.
Harry Gem is buried in Warstone Lane Cemetery in Birmingham, sadly the headstone was destroyed a number of years ago, and would have been left unmarked if it hadn’t been for the Harry Gem Project, a group of tennis fans and historians that aim to raise enough money to re-instate a headstone on Major Gems grave.
In 1877 Spencer William Gore, brother of Charles Gore, the 1st Bishop of Birmingham, won the very 1st Wimbledon Championship.
In this Olympic year, the tennis connections go further, in 1896 John Pius Boland a former pupil of the Birmingham Oratory School on the Hagley Road, traveled to Athens to spectate at the 1st modern Olympics. Whilst he was there he was asked if he would join the German tennis doubles player, whose partner had become ill. They made it to the final and won the Gold medal. Boland decided to enter the men’s singles and won Gold in that discipline to.

 

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