Andy Murray, Tim Henman and the Top British Players in Tennis History

Carrie DunnAnalyst IIAugust 13, 2011

Andy Murray, Tim Henman and the Top British Players in Tennis History

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    Unseeded Tim Henman, left, of Great Britain passes behind his countryman, 13th-seed Andy Murray on a practice court at the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif. Wednesday, March 7, 2007. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    When you get asked to name a British tennis player, you're almost certainly going to name Andy Murray.

    He's the most successful and most talented star we in the UK have had for a generation, probably more. His lack of Grand Slam wins so far may be a bit of a concern, but he's been hovering around the top four and slam semifinals for years now, and if that's the best we're going to get, so be it.

    It wasn't always like this, though. We used to have other British men who were good at tennis, too. Let's refresh our memories.

Tim Henman

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    Tim Henman of Britain during a match against  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France at the US Open tennis tournament in New York, Friday, Aug. 31, 2007. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Tiger Tim Henman was the great hope of British tennis for most of the 1990s and into the new millennium. He was the first British man since the 1970s to reach the semifinals of any Grand Slam (seriously, during the 1980s, British tennis was in the doldrums), and made it as high as No. 4 in the world rankings.

    Significantly, he also got a lump of mud named after him—the little incline outside the main Wimbledon set-up has been referred to as "Henman Hill" since his playing days, as that's where all the fans would gather to watch his matches on the big screen if they couldn't get tickets.

    After he retired in 2007, he went into commentary, so if you tune into any British-led television coverage of tennis, you're likely to see him again.

Greg Rusedski

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    FRED BECKHAM/Associated Press

    When he started competing for Britain, Greg Rusedski's detractors sniffed about him being Canadian. They probably weren't that bothered about his nationality when the big-serving big man started to rack up the wins. 

    He was duelling against Henman for the spot of British No. 1, and unlike his rival, even managed to make it to a Grand Slam final—the US Open in 1997.

    Just like Henman, his career highest ranking was No. 4 in the world—and to be honest, though Henman was probably the more technically graceful and Rusedski more powerful, there was little to choose between them.

    He retired in 2007 as well, and since then has competed on the British reality show, "Dancing on Ice." Seriously.

Jeremy Bates

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    England's Jeremy Bates makes a forehand return against American Todd Martin in the second round match of the Seiko Super Tennis tournament in Tokyo Wednesday, Oct. 11, 1995. Bates got the first set but was defeated by Martin 6-3, 4-6, 4-6. (AP Photo/Katsu
    KATSUMI KASAHARA/Associated Press

    You have to feel sorry for Jeremy Bates, with hindsight. Primarily a doubles player, there was such a dearth of British tennis success in the singles during the time he was playing (retiring in 1996) that he ended up bearing the country's Wimbledon hopes over and over again.

    He made it to the fourth round twice in his sixteen years at SW19, but no further, and though his entry into the singles draw of other slams was patchy, he only ever got as far as the third round there as well.

    Bates was basically a really good player whose abilities weren't appreciated at the time because they didn't involve winning singles titles—only doubles.

Roger Taylor

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    ** FILE ** In this June 1965 file photo, Donald Dell hits a return to Roger Taylor at the Wimbledon tennis tournament in Wimbledon, England. Dell was elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009. Dell co-founded the Associat
    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Roger Taylor was the great hope of 1970s British tennis, making it to quarters and semis, but never beyond. Looking at the stats, though, except for a brief spell between 1970 and 1973, he struggled in singles slams—his best runs at the US Open came at the very start of his career, reaching the quarter-finals in 1964.

    The success he did have, though, is memorable. There's that clip of him against debutant Bjorn Borg when the teenager disputes match-point and Taylor offers to replay the point; there's the win against defending champion Rod Laver at Wimbledon in 1970; there's his spell in World Championship Tennis.

    Oddly, when he played doubles, his only slam wins were at the US Open, where he struggled as a singles player.

Fred Perry

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    FILE - In this July 3, 1973, file photo, Jan Kodes, of Czechoslovakia, reaches for a backhand return during a quarterfinal tennis match against Indiaís Vijay Amritraj at Wimbledon. Kodes won the tournament that year. A total of 39 men representing 12 coun
    Laurence Harris/Associated Press

    No debate about the best British tennis players of all time ever really gets any further than Fred Perry, the last British man to win at Wimbledon.

    He won eight career grand slams, including three successive Wimbledons as an amateur, turning pro shortly afterwards. Of course, in 1930s Britain, professional sport was something to be frowned upon by society's upper echelons, and Perry emigrated to the USA, becoming a naturalised citizen in the early 1940s.

    Fortunately, his success has been recognised now—there's a big statue of him in SW19.

Who's Next?

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    Britain's James Ward returns a shot to Sam Querrey, of the United States, during a Davis Cup tennis match Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    I've not included players like William Renshaw here, even though by repute he was possibly one of the greatest of all time—he played in the late 19th century and won seven Wimbledon titles, six successively.

    But the big question is—who'll be Britain's next hope for a grand slam win? James Ward? Or are we looking beyond him, even, to Tom Farquharson?

    What do you think?