Greg Slade (Cubitt 2020) says partnering quad wheelchair tennis legend David Wagner in the men’s doubles at his first Wimbledon was a “fantastic” experience. Slade, 21, and Wagner, a 49-year-old who has won a total of 22 Grand Slam titles, were beaten in the semi-finals.
“David has so much experience, is a great of the game and has done so much for the sport,” Slade told BBC Sport. “The result didn’t go our way, but he was great with me and I appreciated everything he did for me on the court. He guided me through it. Our games complement each other and I’d love to play with David again.”
The pair did have a two-game lead at one stage in the first set but ultimately lost 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 to Heath Davidson and Robert Shaw, the No.2 seeds. “From 3-1 down we went to 5-3 and then we just got a bit ahead of ourselves and were hitting too big,” said Slade. “Tennis is a few points here and there and unfortunately there were some key points that went against us. Had we won the first set I think it would have been a different match, but that is how these things go.”
Slade, who is ranked 14th in the world in both singles and doubles, was handed a wildcard to play at the Championships. Despite also exiting the quad wheelchair singles in the quarter-finals – beaten by Australian Davidson 6-2 6-4 – Slade says his time at SW19 was “probably the best few days of my life … it’s been so incredible and an experience I’ll never forget.
“It’s been so fun. I’ve been able to bring people out that have never been to Wimbledon or seen me play. To say I’ve done it and played here is something that can never be taken away from me. Hopefully this won’t be the only one I’ll play and I’d love to be back in years to come.”
He admitted to being “terrified” before his debut against Davidson on Court 15 on Wednesday. “You can prep with your team all you want but you can’t get away from the fact you are playing at Wimbledon,” he said. “It is something every tennis player dreams of. I think I dealt with the pressure of playing as a Brit at Wimbledon very well. My aim was to prove I can compete with these guys as a wildcard and that I deserve to be here. It is such a valuable experience. Taking that forward, it will make other events much easier as I have experienced high-pressure situations and performed alright.”
He hopes to return to Wimbledon in future on the strength of his own ranking, rather than relying on a wildcard entry. “Wimbledon is still an eight [player] draw so it is the top seven (in the world), which is quite tough. Ideally we’ll get there next year. The other Slams are expanding their draws and it’d be nice to see Wimbledon do that as well. That’s the longer-term aim – to get here and stay here on my own merit.”
Gregory Slade was talking to BBC Sport’s Andrew Moon