The Last Champion: The Life of Fred Perry Hardcover – 7 May 2009
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"A compelling tome, one that traces an extraordinary life" (The Times)
"Evocative" (Daily Mail)
"A compelling portrait of a great sportsman ... should appeal to a wider readership than hardcore tennis fans" (Mail on Sunday)
"Enthralling" (Sunday Express)
"The first clear-eyed account of an extraordinary life" (Independent on Sunday)
The first biography of Britain's greatest tennis playerSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Anyone who has observed the continuous Henman and Murray-bashing from the British press in recent years will know all too well that Perry was the last British male Grand Slam winner. But the story of Fred Perry's life and career - when tennis was a completely different game and based on completely different principles - is nothing less than fantastical.
It is a surprise to many that Perry hailed from relatively humble beginnings in Stockport, at odds with the perception of accessibility to UK tennis at that time (some would argue those perceptions still exist). Jon Henderson has provided us with a wonderful account of Perry's upbringing, his father's political persuasions, and Perry's trailblazing tennis techniques - as well as his playboy lifestyle.
What Henderson does so well in this book is provide a really evocative sense of tennis in the 20s, 30s and 40s; with lavish attention given to the seemingly endless cast of colorful characters that Perry played, befriended, or romantically encountered. Henderson also provides a tennis biography which is rare in the sense that it encompasses the period where amateur and professional players were completely segregated; where Perry's greatest battles and sense of self were as an amateur, the professional tour of the day is revisited as gruelling, and evidently less rewarding for Perry (certainly in terms of competition).
I have to say, after reading this book I did get the urge to attend some sort of 1930's soiree, such was the impact of Henderson's narrative. Fred Perry has ensured that all future British tennis players have an awful lot to live up to; and this biography is fittingly grand. For anyone keen to know exactly who it is that haunts Henman Hill every Summer, this book will be compulsory reading.
Jon Henderson has put together a fast moving and well researched biography which I found both absorbing and entertaining.
The account of his childhood as the son of a Co-operative Member of Parliament is particularly strong.
Perry was determined to make something of his life and having conquered the table tennis world in his teens, `lawn' tennis seemed the natural progression.
Tennis hasn't changed much in England over the past seventy years and the book reveals how Perry's natural talent coupled with his irresistible inner drive enabled him to overcome the sport's class barriers to achieve his goals. Following his third consecutive Wimbledon title in 1936, Perry turned professional and joined the US based `racket for hire' tour to achieve the wealth and worldwide fame which he undoubtedly deserved.
In summary it's an excellent read which will certainly hit the sweet-spot for any tennis fan. I would have liked more detail about his Wimbledon wins, but `nobody's perfect'!
Jon Champion highlighted the barriers the Fred Perry encountered that are still applicable to today and how the Wimbledon establishment treated in him respect of class instead of his ability as a great tennis player and competitor.This book will only not appeal to people who likes tennis but also those who don't. It gives a real insight into the man and person known as Fred Perry.
I was really sad when I finished reading the book as its one of the best biographies I ever read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Was a present for my husband (who does not read a lot!) to take on holiday and he couldn't put it down!Published on 10 Aug. 2013 by Mrs R A Brooker
Again not enough personal details on his life but concentrating on all scores of individual matches would be more enjoyable on his life in Hollywood.Published on 3 Aug. 2013 by Jon Stevenson
Really enjoyed this biog of the last british male champion of wimbledon.Having previously read his 1984 autobiography I found this a very comprehensive and interesting read. Read morePublished on 20 July 2009 by Mr. M. Geraghty