If you ever go to Wimbledon, look up to the clouds and read their linings, you might spot the etched sentence across them: "No British man has won Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936."
That may or may not be a hallucination, but the sentence has lurked over southwest London for a long time, ever since the 1936 men's final when Perry scored a 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 rout of Gottfried von Cramm, the German noted for once receiving a phone call from Adolf Hitler shortly before a Davis Cup tie.
Perry would live to see his own statue at the All England Club, much-deserved for a man who won 10 Grand Slam tournaments but also six medals in world table tennis, showing a rare capacity to thwack balls regardless of whether tournament organizers elected to include furniture.
Yet no one on that Friday, July 3, 1936, or the weekend that followed, managed to write that Perry's third consecutive title would be Britain's last for the ensuing 77 years, and too bad, because that would have been a hell of a prediction.
From there, and on through Virginia Wade's fabulous triumph in women's singles at Wimbledon 1977, the hunt for the next male champion became a theme, then an exhausted theme, then a theme again, then an exhausted theme again …