Wimbledon 2012: California Community Outshines UK

James RiggioContributor IJuly 8, 2012

4 Jul 1999:  Ladies singles champion Lindsay Davenport and Men's champion Pete Sampras both of the United States celebrate victory with the respective trophies at the Champion's Ball held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, England.  \ Mandatory Credit:Gary M Prior/Allsport
Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

In a year that it is hosting the Olympic Games, the United Kingdom was hoping that it could claim a major feat just weeks before. Scotland’s Andy Murray fell just short of becoming the first British men’s player in the Open Era to claim the singles title at Wimbledon, arguably the top tennis tournament in the world.

The loss leaves the UK disappointed at a great effort by one of its own, who gave legend Roger Federer a tough battle before the Swiss player ran away with his record 17th Grand Slam victory.

With a population of more than 60,000,000 people, the United Kingdom, comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, has struggled to achieve success in its own event.

So much so, that a community half the world away just outside Los Angeles, California actually owns more Wimbledon silverware in the Open Era than the UK does itself.

The Palos Verdes Peninsula, with a total population of about 67,000 people claims more home-grown Wimbledon champions than any community of its size in the world.

It is comprised of the small communities of Rancho Palos Verdes, Palos Verdes Estates, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates and a small area that is simply referred as Palos Verdes Peninsula because it doesn't belong to any of the four cities, yet is surrounded by them.

The Wimbledon success out of the Palos Verdes Peninsula is not the reflection of the success of one individual.  Rather, seven people who became tennis champions while growing up on the Palos Verdes Peninsula have been able to call themselves Wimbledon champions. The PVP has won 13 Wimbledon titles if one gives half of a title to those who have won in doubles.

Most notably is Pete Sampras, who along with Switzerland’s Federer, owns seven men’s singles titles.

Lindsay Davenport won the 1999 women’s singles title and was half of the winning doubles team, also grew up in the PVP.

Tracy Austin, another former world No. 1 women’s player, won the 1980 mixed doubles title with her brother, John. Tracy Austin, who still lives in the PVP, also won the 1978 junior girls’ title.

Jim Pugh was one half of the winning 1989 mixed doubles title-winning team. He also won the 1990 men’s doubles title, teaming with Rick Leach, now Davenport’s brother-in-law.

Kim Po, another PVP native, was part of the winning 2000 Wimbledon mixed doubles team.

Not to be forgotten is current UCLA men’s tennis coach Billy Martin, who won both the 1973 and 1974 boys’ singles titles at Wimbledon.  His professional career was cut short due to injury.

While the PVP has struggled to achieve major tennis success over the past decade, it still can look down on the United Kingdom in its own event.

Since 1968 when the Open Era began, the UK has produced a combined 10 Wimbledon titles led by 1969 women’s singles champion Ann Haydon Jones and 1977 singles champion Virginia Wade. Haydon Jones also won a mixed doubles title in 1969.

This weekend Jonathan Marray was one half of the winning men’s doubles team. It made him the first UK Wimbledon champion on the professional level since Jaime Murray was part of the winning mixed doubles team in 2007, and just the second since 1987.

Other UK winners at Wimbledon include: John Lloyd (1984, mixed doubles); Jo Durie and Jeremy Bates (1987 mixed doubles); Annabel Croft (1984, girls’ singles); Elizabeth Jeffs (1994, girls’ doubles), Martin Lee and James Trotman (1995, boys’ doubles); Laura Robson (2008, girls’ singles), Liam Brody and Tom Farquharson (2010 boys’ doubles), George Morgan (2011 boys’ doubles).

Andy Murray will get another ‘chance’ at Wimbledon in a few weeks for the Olympics.  But for now in the record books, the UK still remains behind that little hill at the base of Los Angeles.