Shropshire Star

Mystery behind buyer of tennis champ Virginia Wade's undies as they fetch £1,600 in Ludlow

They were only supposed to make £300, but collectors clearly took a liking to Virginia Wade's knickers.


They fetched five times as much as expected and were snapped up for £1,600 at auction in Shropshire.

Wade's frilly knickers were seen by tennis fans across the world when she raised the champion's trophy at Wimbledon in 1977.

They were given a guide price of £300 at a sports memorabilia auction at Ludlow Racecourse yesterday.

But the bidding was so intense that it soon proved that figure was wide of the mark.

The vintage undies had been brought back to Britain by a tennis aficionado from New Zealand who is selling off some of his private collection. The signed knickers were originally sold by Wade herself at a charity auction, and yesterday's lot included a photograph of the couple who originally won them receiving them from her, to guarantee their authenticity.

The 40-year-old size 8 pants were described as having some speckle spots and a slightly frayed elastic waist.

Ben Jones, consultant at Church Stretton auctioneers Mullocks, which was hosting the sale, said: "We are very pleased with the result. We had two cellphone bidders and there was quite a bit of interest online – though in the end it came down to the two on the telephone."

He said he believed the winner was bidding for a museum but could not give further details. Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum was believed to have been interested in the knickers, but a spokesman could not confirm it was behind the purchase yesterday.

Wade, now 70, retired from tennis in 1986 and remains the only British woman in history to have won titles at all four Grand Slam tournaments. During her sporting career she was ranked as number two in the world in singles and number one in the world in doubles.

Other big sellers at the auction included at pair of William Powell and Son 12-bore shot guns, which sold for £5,200, and an Edwardian mahogany and bone revolving billiard and snooker cue stand, which sold for about twice what was expected at £740.

Mullocks' next auction is an antique and modern fishing tackle sale on November 21.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.