The 1926 Championships were historic for the fact that the Duke of York, later to become King George VI, played in the doubles partnered by Wing Commander Louis Greg. His wife, the Queen Mother watched him play from the stands. The duo lost to veterans Gore and Barrett who were 58 and 52 respectively.
Kitty Godfree won the ladies crown in 1926, taking advantage of Suzanne Lenglen’s defaulting. She defeated the beautiful Spaniard, Lili de Alvarez in the final. She had won in 1924 too (as Miss McKane) when Miss Lenglen had failed to turn up, by beating the inexperienced Helen Wills. This was to be Miss Wills’ only defeat in 56 matches and nine championships. Kitty Godfree also won the mixed doubles title that year, partnered by her husband.
When ‘Big Bill’ Tilden took a sabbatical from Wimbledon after winning the title in 1921 there was a challenge round. On his return in 1927 seeding was introduced and the Three Musketeers from France were in full force. Three years running he was unseated by one of them. Eventually, at 37, Tilden did win again, the ten-year span since his first title being a men's record. Though he is billed as the greatest player of his time, his Wimbledon record does not bear out his dominance. He was however a force to reckon with in Davis Cup matches and on the American circuit.
At Wimbledon it was an American lady who was making the greater impact. Helen Wills, who became Mrs Moody by marriage and "poker face" by manner, won all eight championships she entered between 1927 and 1938. From the second round in 1927 to the semifinal in 1933, she played 35 matches without losing a set.
American women have called the shots almost ever since but, because Mrs Moody missed odd years, the ‘thirties offered fleeting chances to others. In 1931, out of the blue, there was an all-German final. It was a poor one; both frauleins had blistered feet. Cilly Aussem, who won, gave up the game soon afterwards to become Contessa Della Corta Brae. That is as near as Italy had come to a singles title. Indeed, apart from Lenglen, Aussem is the continent's only winner of the ladies' singles. The men's final was even more of a flop. It would have been all American but Frank Shields strained a leg in winning his semi-final and Sidney Wood walked over.
The 1932 men’s event was dominated by Ellsworth Vines, 20 and from California, loaded with a mighty serve and a flat forehand. He beat Briton Bunny Austin in the final.
The next year Bunny Austin participated in shorts, the first to do so at Wimbledon and Aussie, Vivian McGrath played with a two-handed backhand for the first time. But Jack Crawford, an Australian, tamed Vines in the final. He wore a cricket shirt buttoned at the wrists, kept a pot of tea at the umpire’s chair and played from the baseline. In what is ranked as one of the finest matches of all time at Wimbledon, lasting 2 hours, Crawford won in five sets.