Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards Sir Gareth Edwards, knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2015 for services to sport and charity, was arguably the greatest scrum-half in the history of rugby union. Born on July 12, 1947, in the former mining village of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, near Ammanford, in South West Wales, Edwards made his international debut, at the age of 19, in a Five Nations Championship match against France at the Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir, near Paris in 1967. The following season, at the age of 20, he became the youngest ever captain of the Welsh national team, against Scotland at Cardiff Arms Park in the same competition.

All told, as arguably the best player in a back division that included John Peter Rhys ‘JPR’ Williams, Gerald Davies, Phil Bennett and Barry John, Edwards would win 53 consecutive caps for Wales. Remarkably, for a scrum-half, he scored twenty tries for Wales in Test matches. He also won ten caps for the British Lions, notably in New Zealand in 1971, when they lost only one game and won a Test series against New Zealand and South Africa in 1974, when they were undefeated for the entire tour.

Edwards also scored what has been described as the ‘greatest try ever’ when playing for the Barbarians against New Zealand at Cardiff Arms Park in January, 1973. In the first few minutes of the match, Barbarians’ fly-half Phil Bennett retrieved a kick from New Zealand winger Bryan Williams inside his own 22-metre line, sidestepped three opponents and passed to full-back JPR Williams. Twenty-five seconds later, Edwards capped a sensational handling move by diving over in the corner, leading commentator Cliff Morgan to exclaim, ‘A dramatic start! What a score!’

Gareth Edwards’ iconic Six Nations try against Scotland (1972)

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Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova Martina Navratilova has the distinction of being the greatest Wimbledon champion of the Open Era, winning the Ladies’ Singles Championships a record nine times, including six years running between 1982 and 1987, and twenty titles in all in SW19. Indeed, Navratilova was the dominant force in women’s tennis in the late Seventies and the Eighties, to which her career record of 59 Grand Slam titles – 18 singles, 31 doubles and 10 mixed doubles – bears testament.

Born Martina Subertova in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, on October 18, 1956, Martina Navratilova took the feminised form of the surname of her stepfather, Miroslav Navratil, when her mother remarried in 1962. Her left-handed, serve and volley style first attracted international attention when she led Czechoslovakia to a 3-0 victory over an Australian team, which included Evonne Goolagong, in the final of the Federation Cup in 1975. That September, after reaching the semi-finals of the US Open, Navratilova requested political asylum in the United States and was granted temporary residence. She was immediately stripped of her Czech nationality – although she became a Czech citizen once again in 2008 – and became an US citizen in 1981.

Interestingly, Navratilova won just three of her 18 Grand Slam singles titles before she turned 25. Throughout the Eighties, she shared a legendary rivalry with American Chris Evert. By contrast to Navratilova, Evert was a powerful baseline player with, arguably, the best two-handed backhand in the game. Initially Evert, who excelled on clay and hardcourt, dominated their encounters, but overall Navratilova beat her 43-37 head-to-head and, crucially, 10-4 in Grand Slam finals.

Martina Navratilova v Chris Evert: Wimbledon Final 1978

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