Sharing their birthday with your Playing Pasts Editor in chief [penblwydd hapus i mi, so happy birthday to me in my native Welsh].  Anyway I digress…

  • Born on this day in 1965, Yugoslavian tennis player Sabrina Goleš, she was on the circuit during the 1980s and the very early 1990s and took part in the 1984 Olympics, when the sport was a demonstration event and competed at the 1988 Olympic tournament, finishing in tied 17th place after losing 2-0 to Argentina’s  Gabriela Sabatini in round two.
  • Also born today, in 1986 was Rafael Nadal, the nephew of Miguel Nadal of FC Barcelona fame, holds the most clay court titles in the Open Era (57), and holds an all-time record of 11 French Open, 11 Monte-Carlo Masters and 11 Barcelona titles. He also has the longest single surface winning streak in matches (clay courts, 81) and in sets (clay courts, 50) in the history of the Open Era. Due to these achievements, many have called Nadal “The King of Clay” and is widely regarded as the greatest clay-court player in history.  His evolution into an all-court champion has established him as one of the greatest players of all time.



  • Born today in 1965 American former world No 2 Andrea Jaeger, her short but highly successful tennis career ended prematurely due to major shoulder injuries. Andrea reached the singles final of Wimbledon in 1983 and the French Open in 1982. She reached the singles semi-finals of the Australian Open in 1982 and of the US Open in 1980 and 1982. She also won 10 singles titles. In mixed doubles, she won the French Open with Jimmy Arias in 1981. During her career, she won $1.4 million in prize money and millions more in endorsements. After retirement in 1987, she has prominently dedicated her life to public service, charities, and philanthropy. In 2006, she became “Sister Andrea” as a member of the Anglican Order of Preachers. She is a member of the Episcopal Church and based Florida. Her autobiography, First Service, was published in 2004. In the book she wrote about her teenage years as a tennis player and her later decision to focus on serving God. All proceeds from the book were donated to children’s charities.
  • Nenad Zimonjić from Serbia was born in 1976. Ranked World No. 1 in 2008 in doubles, he is the second tennis doubles player from Serbia to hold the World No. 1, after Slobodan Živojinović.  Nedad turned pro in 1995 and was relatively unknown outside his native country until a surprise victory in the mixed doubles at the 2004 Australian Open. Paired for the first time with Russian Elena Bovina, the pair beat defending champions Martina Navratilova and Leander Paes in straight sets in an hour and nine minutes.  He has been a member of Serbia Davis Cup team since 1995, playing both singles and doubles, and in 2003–2004 he was the playing captain of the national team. In the 2013 quarterfinals against the United States, he and Ilija Bozoljac had an impressive five set victory against the no. 1 ranked Bryan brothers – all this and more makes him the most accomplished Davis Cup player in his nations history.


  • Ekaterina  Bychkova, was born in Moscow on this day in 1985. She won nine singles and four doubles titles on the ITF tour in her career. In February 2006, she reached her highest singles ranking of world number 66 and a year later in January 2007, she peaked at world number 106 in the doubles rankings. Ekaterina defeated defending champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round of the 2005 US Open. It was the first time a defending US Open champion had lost in the first round. She was introduced to tennis and coached by her mother Liudmila and began playing at the Spartak and Chajka tennis clubs.
  • Konstantinos Paspatis, also known as Constantine George Paspatis, who played singles and doubles at the 1896 Olympics, effectively winning a bronze medal in singles for Greece, was born today in 1878 in Liverpool. He was the brother-in-law of Fronietta Paspati, who played tennis at the 1906 Olympics, and also won a bronze medal in singles, while his cousin Dimitrios Petrokokkinos played in the 1896 Olympic tennis tournaments. The Paspatis were a merchant family from the Greek island of Chios who settled in Liverpool, England and made a fortune, Konstantinos himself was a merchant banker.



  • Born on this day in 1965, Swedish former  World No 1 player Björn Borg, widely considered to be one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.  Between 1974 and 1981 he became the first man in the Open Era to win 11 Grand Slam singles titles (six at the French Open and five consecutive at Wimbledon). He also won three year-end championships and 16 Grand Prix Super Series titles. Overall, he set numerous records that still stand. Borg is the first player to win six French Open singles titles and was undefeated in French Open finals. A teenage sensation at the start of his career, his unprecedented stardom and consistent success helped propel the rising popularity of tennis during the 1970s and as a result, the professional tour became more lucrative, and in 1979 he was the first player to earn more than one million dollars in prize money in a single season. He also made millions in endorsements throughout his career. However, the constant attention and pressure eventually caused burnout and in January 1983 he shocked the tennis world by announcing that he was retiring from the game at the age of 26. John McEnroe tried unsuccessfully to persuade him to continue. He did, however, play Monte Carlo again in March 1983, reaching the second round, and Stuttgart in July 1984. In 1991–1993, he attempted a comeback on the men’s professional tennis tour, coached by Welsh karate expert Ron Thatcher, but  failed to win a single match. He fared slightly better in 1993, taking a set off his opponent in each of the three matches he played. He came closest to getting a win in what turned out to be his final tour match, falling to Alexander Volkov.




  • One of the best known tennis stars, the Russian player, Anna Kournikova was born today in 1981. In fact at the peak of her fame, fans looking her image made her name one of the most common search strings on Google Search. Her father, Sergei, was a former Greco-Roman wrestling champion and was a professor at the University of Physical Culture and Sport in Moscow and her  mother Alla  had been a 400m runner, while her younger brother, Allan, is a youth golf world champion who was featured in the 2013 documentary film The Short Game.  Anna was affiliated to the Spartak Moskva club and despite never winning a singles title, she reached No. 8 in the world in 2000. She achieved greater success however playing doubles, where she was at times the world No. 1 player. With Martina Hingis, she won Grand Slam titles in Australia in 1999 and 2002, and the WTA Championships in 1999 and 2000. The pair jokingly referred to themselves as the “Spice Girls of Tennis”. Anna retired at the age of 21 due to serious back and spinal problems and now plays in occasional exhibitions and in doubles. She was a trainer for season 12 of the US television show The Biggest Loser. She competed alongside John McEnroe, Tracy Austin and Jim Courier at the “Legendary Night”, held in May 2009, at the Turning Stone Event Center in New York. The exhibition included a mixed doubles match of McEnroe and Austin against Courier and Kournikova.In 2008, she was named a spokesperson for K-Swiss and in June 2010 she reunited with her doubles partner Martina Hingis to participate in competitive tennis for the first time in seven years in the Invitational Ladies Doubles event at Wimbledon.  On 29th June 2010 they defeated the British pair Samantha Smith and Anne Hobbs.


  • American Olympic gold medallist Lindsay Davenport was born today in 1976. The daughter of Wink Davenport who represented the US at the 1966 Mexico Olympics as a member of the volleyball team, she was ranked World No 1 on eight different occasions for singles [98 weeks all-told] as well as achieving No 1 in doubles. The winner of 55 WTA tour singles, which included three Grand Slams, she was the Olympic Champion at the 1996 Games. Partnered with Mary Joe Fernández, Corina Morariu, and Jana Novotná she has 38 WTA doubles titles to her name.   Coached for most of her career by Robert Van’t Hof, she was ranked the 29th greatest ever player [male or female] by TENNIS magazine in 2005 and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014. The following year she became the coach of Madison Keys and the pair made an almost instant impact when Madison reached the semi-finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time at the 2015 Australian Open, where she upset reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová en route.
  • Also born on this day, but in 1983, Kim Clijsters, the former Belgian world ranked No 1 player, holding the top rankings for both single and doubles simultaneously in 2003. She won a total of six Grand Slam tournament titles, four in singles and two in doubles. Coming from a country with limited success in men’s or women’s tennis, Kim became the first Belgian player to attain the No. 1 ranking. Together with Henin, she established Belgium as a leading force in women’s tennis as the two of them led their country to their first Fed Cup crown in 2001 and were the top two players in the world in late 2003. Individually, Kim won 41 singles titles and 11 doubles titles on the WTA Tour. Plagued by injuries and having lost some of her desire to compete, she initially retired from tennis in 2007 at the age of 23 to get married and have a daughter. She returned to the sport two years later and won her second US Open title as an unranked player in just her third tournament back. She defended her title the following year and then won the Australian Open in 2011 en route to becoming the first mother to be ranked No. 1 by the WTA. Along with Margaret Court, she also holds the record for most Grand Slam singles titles won as a mother with three and was the first to win one since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980. She officially retired from professional tennis after the 2012 US Open.


  • Willem Noble Stibolt, born on this day in 1980 in Drammen, Norway. Known as Noble rather than Willem he was affiliated to his local club – Drammen Lawntennisklub. He played  both singles and doubles at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, partnering Bjarne Angell in the doubles, where the pair finished in 15th place, having been beaten by the Bohemian paring of  Zemla and Just in three straight sets, with Nolbe being placed 17th in the singles competition. He was Norwegian doubles champion in 1910-11, alongside Valborg Bjurstedt. He lived abroad from 1913-26, working to promote the Norwegian export industry and on his return to Norway he built and managed two tennis halls, one in Oslo and one in Bergen. He died at the age of 73 on 5th April 1964
  • Leó von Baráth, who was born today in 1891 in Budapest, competed in singles and doubles at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. In singles he was paired against his doubles partner, Aurél von Kelemen, in the second round, after a bye in round one, losing to him in straight sets, but von Kelemen lost in the next round. They fared no better in doubles, losing in straights in the first round. Von Baráth was a military officer, who served in World War I. After the war he worked in the car industry, where he was the owner of several patents. He was also active in touring car racing in the 1920s.