princess of monaco

The most interesting man in the world (The tennis version)

By Bob Stockton

You know those Dos Equis TV commercials that feature THE MOST INTERESTING MAN IN THE WORLD. “I may not always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis,” he says, “Stay thirsty my friends.” Who would be this man’s equivalent in the world of tennis? We’d like to nominate Sidney Wood, the man who won Wimbledon 80 years ago at the age of 19. Wood, who passed away in 2009, has his posthumously published memoir now on the market called THE WIMBLEDON FINAL THAT NEVER WAS ($15.95, New Chapter Press, available here: where tales are told that will give people a lot of reason for saying that Wood could have been “THE MOST INTERESTING MAN IN THE WORLD.”

Consider about Wood:

  • Among other starlets and movie stars, he dated Grace Kelly, the future Princess of Monaco, and actually dumped her before she begged for another chance
  • He once hired a bi-plane to chase after a train he missed after taking too long during a whistle stop in Kansas City
  • He played tennis and clowned around with actors and super stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx, The Shah of Iran, chess superstar Bobby Fischer among many others
  • He was the brain child behind creating box seats at the U.S. Championships – the modern day US Open
  • Got into the laundry business with Don Budge and Arnold Palmer (and having gun-slinging actor Gary Cooper sometimes deliver laundry to patrons)
  • He qualified for the US Open doubles championship with swashbuckling Robin Hood actor Errol Flynn
  • He was the major person fighting behind the scenes to allow Althea Gibson to break the color barrier at the U.S. Championships in 1950.
  • He had his hand-prints (supposedly) immortalized in cement at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre only to have it disappear the next day!
  • Created a rooftop tennis club in Manhattan
  • He beat King Kong’s girlfriend Fay Wray in ping pong using his shoe
  • He created Supreme Court, the indoor tennis court surface that helped pave the way for professional tennis in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • He won the “Wimbledon Final That Never Was” (and be the youngest player at the time and hold the record for a half century.
  • He was part of the only U.S. Davis Cup team to come back from an 0-2 deficit.

This year’s Wimbledon marks the 80-year anniversary when he and Frank Shields, his pal and the grandfather of actress Brooke Shields, reached the Wimbledon final, where the U.S. Tennis Association forced Shields to default the final to rest an injured knee for Davis Cup. Shields’ semifinal win over Jean Borotra was just as dramatic as when Roy Hobbs, played by Robert Redford, hit the home run at the end of the movie THE NATURAL except, in Shields’ case, it was in real life! He basically finished off the last three games of the match on one leg, serving five unreturnable serves (from 4-3, 40-30 in the fourth set) to win the match and reach the final.

We could go on, but we suggest you buy the book.

Here’s a little more about the other MOST INTERESTING MAN IN THE WORLD…