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On This Date in Sports July 7, 1985: Teen Wins Wimbledon

in collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

 

At the age of 17, Boris Becker of West Germany becomes the youngest Wimbledon Champion and the first to win a singles title unseeded. The teenager from defeats eight-seed Kevin Curren in four sets (6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4). Becker would prove his win was not a fluke in 1986, as he won a second straight Wimbledon title. Boris Becker would win three times at the All-England Lawn and Tennis Club, and won six grand slam titles. 

Boris Becker was born on November 22, 1967, in Leimen inside West Germany. The son of an architect, Becker, was tennis prodigy, joining the prestigious Baden Tennis Association at the age of nine. A top-rated junior champion, Boris Becker turned professional in 1984. He won a double championship in Munich in his first season as a pro, while reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. 

Beginning his second Wimbledon as an unseeded player, Boris Becker faced a challenge in the third round, beating seventh seed Joakim Nystrom of Sweden in a fifth-set tiebreak (3-6, 7-6, 6-1, 4-6, 9-7). He also needed five sets to reach the quarterfinals beating #16 Tim Mayotte (6-3, 4-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2). In a battle of unseeded players, Boris Becker beat Henri Leconte of France (7-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4). From there, he defeated fifth seed Anders Jarryd of Sweden (2-6, 7-6, 6-3, 6-3) in the semifinals. 

Boris Becker’s opponent in the Wimbledon Final was eighth-seeded Kevin Curren. A native of South Africa, Curren became an American citizen in 1985 to avoid the ban of South Africans competing due to sanctions placed across the sporting world on the country’s Apartheid policies. It was his second appearance in a grand slam final, having lost to Mats Wilander in the 1984 Australian Open Final. Curren lost just one set on the way to the quarterfinal, beating rising star Stephen Edberg of Sweden in straight sets along the way. In the quarterfinals, Kevin Curren shocked top-seeded John McEnroe in straight sets (6-2, 6-2, 6-4). McEnroe was the reigning champion, winning three of four Wimbledon titles from 1981-1984. In the semifinal finals, Curren beat third seed Jimmy Connors in straight sets (6-2, 6-2, 6-1). It was the first time that anyone beat both McEnroe and Connors in the same grand slam tournament. 

After beating John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors, the experts expected Kevin Curren to win his first grand slam facing the unseeded teenager. Instead, it was Becker’s day from the start as he had Curren chasing the ball all day, firing 21 aces. Boris Becker captured the first set 6-3. Kevin Curren responded by winning the second set 7-6. The match was quite intense as the two bumped shoulders during an aggressive changeover. The third set also went the distance, with Becker winning 7-6. He was able to break Curren in the fourth set on the way to winning 6-4 to capture the championship. 

Kevin Curren would not reach another grand slam final in his career. Boris Becker would become one of the top players in the world, winning six grand slam titles. When he won at Wimbledon, he was the youngest to have won a grand slam event, a record that would be topped in 1989 when American Michael Chang won the French Open at the age of 17, who was a few months younger than Becker was when he won Wimbledon.