A world champion tennis player many times over, the School Archives holds a racquet used by Sir Norman Brookes (OM 1895) to win Wimbledon.
A wooden racquet used at Wimbledon by Australian tennis great, Sir Norman Brookes (OM 1895), is held in the School Archives. In 1907 this racquet helped him to win the All England Club’s men’s singles title.
In an international sporting career that spanned more than 20 years, Sir Norman won 19 major titles, including the men’s singles title at Wimbledon twice (1907, 1914) and the Australian Open men’s singles title (known then as the Australasian Championship) once (1911). His victories also include Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open doubles titles.
Known as ‘The Wizard’, he was acknowledged as a master strategist, with a superb serve and volley. In Davis Cup, Sir Norman represented Australasia (Australia and New Zealand played as one until 1919) in no less than 39 Davis Cup matches, winning the tournament six times.
Knighted in 1939 for distinguished service to tennis, Sir Norman served as President of The Lawn Tennis Association of Australia from 1926-1955.
At Melbourne Grammar School, Sir Norman was a notable footballer, cricketer and tennis player. He won the Tennis Challenge Cup in 1892 and 1893, and was a member of the First IV tennis team in 1894. He was also a member of the School’s First XI and First XVIII teams from 1893 to 1895.
Sir Norman was president of The Old Melburnians Society and a member of the School Council in 1933. He died in 1968.
Left: The wooden racquet which Sir Norman presented to the School is strung with cat gut and has a thin brown leather strip that is tacked to the scored grip-end of the handle. A small, engraved silver shield, which is affixed to the middle of the racquet, records its Wimbledon credentials.
The racquet’s dimensions are 64.5cm (overall length), 22cm (width – frame) and 2cm (depth). In comparison, today’s carbon fibre composite racquets can reach 74cm (overall length), 32cm (width –frame), and with heads of 550-880cm squared.
Below: The trophy for the winner the Australian Open men’s singles final is named after Sir Norman Brookes – The Norman Brookes Challenge Cup. Swiss tennis star Roger Federer has held it aloft six times and affectionately calls it ‘Norman’.
A replica of the trophy is also presented to the winning First VIII of the Head of the River each year.