At the age of 18 a teenager called Pete Sampras debuted at Wimbledon, he lost in round one and so he did in 1990 but who would expect him to go on and dominate the 1990’s like he did at Wimbledon?
Pete’s first Grand Slam title came months after his 1990 showing in London at the US Open but it wasn’t until 1993 he was crowned Wimbledon champion, the first of 7 titles in 8 years.
It was his most successful major, 14 appearances, 7 titles, 63 wins to 7 defeats with a 90% win percentage.
In 1992 he was the highest ranked player left in the competition as the final four stepped out, the others were John McEnroe, Andre Agassi and Goran Ivanesivic with the Croat stopping the American’s run at the second from last hurdle.
The year after he came back as the world number one and won his first Wimbledon title. Pistol Pete as he was known brought an all-round selection of skill and was partial to a serve and volley more often than not.
It served him well for three straight years between 1993 and 1995. 1996 was looking like being a formality as well, Pete was only one of two seeds left against Goran went out but the world number one was stunned by Richard Krajicek in the final eight in three straight sets, the Dutchman went onto win his only Grand Slam title but a memorable one.
The following two years he continued to breeze through the early rounds, there were scares in 1997 with Petr Korda forcing him to five likewise with Goran the following year but a fourth and fifth Wimbledon title was secured.
1999 and 2000 were triumphant once more taking his tally to 7 Wimbledon titles and the turn of the century would be that for one of the greatest tacticians a grass court has seen. He lost in the fourth round in 2002 to the 15th seed, a man called Roger Federer and in 2002 he bowed out to lucky loser George Bastl in five sets.
Pete’s last ever Grand Slam appearance followed months later winning the US Open on his final hurrah.
As a Wimbledon champion he had it all. He had options on his serve which was unpredictable, he mixed it up at the net and his ground strokes were impeccable. I don’t think we have seen someone serve with such variety since he did all those years ago.