Tim Henman officially retired from professional tennis in September, 2007, but for more than a decade previously had been the ‘great British hope’ for victory in the Men’s Singles at Wimbledon, last won by Fred Perry in 1936. However, before the arrival of Andy Murray, who turned professional – and played Wimbledon for the first time, on a wild card – in 2005, Henman was, without doubt, the best British male player of the Open Era and, in fact, since Perry himself.
Year after year, Henman bore the weight of not-altogether-realistic expectation in SW19 but, at the time of his retirement, said, ‘Am I disappointed I didn’t win it [Wimbledon]? Yes I am, but this is as good as I could have been, so I don’t have too many doubts.’ Lingering self-doubt may have been the root cause of inconsistency in his play and, indeed, his less-than-convincing, ‘limp-fisted’ celebrations, from time to time. However, accusations of ‘choking’ under pressure – as levelled by Pete Sampras, among others – are probably a little unfair; on the whole, Henman did pretty well with the tools with which he was equipped.
All told, Henman reached 28 ATP singles finals during his career, winning 11 of them. At his peak, was ranked number four in the world. At Wimbledon, he reached the semi-finals in the Men’s Singles in four of the five years between 1998 and 2002, losing to Pete Sampras in four sets in both 1998 and 1999, Goran Ivanišević in five sets in 2001 and Lleyton Hewitt in three sets in 2002. Henman also reached the semi-finals of both the French Open and the US Open in 2004, losing in four sets to Guillermo Coria in Paris and in straight sets to Roger Federer in New York.