From the Renshaws and the Dohertys who dominated in the early years through to the Murrays and the Bryans of modern times, brothers have flourished throughout Wimbledon history.
In 140 years of competition, nevertheless, there has been only one occasion when three brothers have played in the gentlemen’s singles at The Championships in the same year. It was 40 years ago that David, John and Tony Lloyd all went into the 128-strong draw. They never did so together again and no trio of brothers have played in singles at The Championships in the same year since.
For half a century now the Lloyd family have been part of the fabric of British tennis. Tony, the youngest of the brothers, made only appearance in singles at The Championships but went on to become a respected coach. David and John, meanwhile, enjoyed long playing careers before the former became a highly successful entrepreneur in the leisure business and the latter a central figure in the BBC’s coverage of tennis.
The Lloyds grew up playing tennis at the Westcliff Hardcourt Tennis Club near Southend in Essex. Their parents both played the sport and Dennis, their father, represented Essex and played in high-profile tournaments at clubs like Beckenham and Hurlingham. A more successful player on shale than on grass, he failed in his only attempt to qualify for The Championships. He coached all three of his sons in their formative years.
David, the oldest of the brothers, soon established himself as one of Britain’s best juniors. In his early days as a senior the sport was still amateur so he took part-time jobs, which helped to sow the seeds for his later business successes.
In 1964 David made his first appearance at The Championships when he played mixed doubles with Caroline Peerless. He first played in the gentlemen’s singles in 1968, when he won three matches in qualifying and then beat Pierre Darmon and Terry Ryan before losing in straight sets to John Newcombe.
It was the furthest David ever got in 10 appearances in the singles. He had the misfortune to run into top-quality opponents on several occasions, with Stan Smith, Jimmy Connors and Bjorn Borg among the players who beat him.
David’s best run in doubles came alongside John Paish in 1973, when they reached the semi-finals after some marathon battles. The Australians John Cooper and Neale Fraser denied them a place in the final, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
In mixed doubles David reached the quarter-finals at The Championships three times. In 1979 David and Lesley Charles beat John Lloyd and Rosie Casals before losing to Frew McMillan and Betty Stove.
John was the most accomplished player of the three brothers and enjoyed a long and successful career. At the Australian Open in 1977 he became the first British man for 39 years to reach a Grand Slam singles final before losing to Vitas Gerulaitis. He was also the last British man to play in a Grand Slam singles final until Andy Murray at the US Open in 2008.
John reached No.21 in the world rankings, but did not enjoy the success in singles at The Championships that his talent merited. He made 14 appearances in the gentlemen’s singles but never went beyond the third round, in which he lost to Vijay Amritraj, Scott Davis and Henri Leconte in 1973, 1984 and 1985 respectively.
In gentlemen’s doubles John reached one quarter-final, alongside Dick Stockton in 1982, but it was in mixed doubles that he enjoyed his finest moments at The Championships.
John and the Australian Wendy Turnbull reached the final in 1982 before losing to Kevin Curren and Anne Smith. Twelve months later, however, John became the first British man to win a title at The Championships since 1936, when Fred Perry had won the singles and Pat Hughes and Raymond Tuckey the gentlemen’s doubles.
Lloyd and Turnbull beat Steve Denton and Billie Jean King in the mixed doubles final in 1983 and made a successful defence of their title a year later against Denton and Kathy Jordan.
Tony Lloyd reached the semi-finals of the boys’ singles at The Championships in 1974 but only ever played one match in the main draw of the senior event, losing in straight sets to John Alexander in 1977.
His brothers both went one round further that year. David beat Ricardo Ycaza before losing to Kim Warwick while John knocked out Roscoe Tanner, the No.4 seed, before letting slip a two-set lead against Karl Meiler.
Tony made four appearances in the gentlemen’s doubles, twice reaching the third round alongside John. In the first round in 1979 they beat the No 2 seeds, Wojtek Fibak and Tom Okker, in five sets. In his only appearance in the mixed doubles in 1978, Tony and Ros Lewis lost to John McEnroe and Stacy Margolin. A chronic back injury curtailed Tony’s playing career, but he went on to become a highly rated coach.
David made his last appearance at The Championships in 1984, while John bowed out five years later. However, they have barely been out of the spotlight since. Both men captained Britain in the Davis Cup, John as recently as 2010. David established his network of David Lloyd leisure centres across the country and John has become a familiar face and voice as part of the BBC’s commentary team at The Championships.
The influence of the Lloyd family on British tennis is far from over. In January 2018 Scott Lloyd, David’s son, will take up his position as chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association.