SPORTS

As captured by AP photographers, 10 landmark Wimbledon men's champions

  • FILE - In this July 4, 1928 file photo, French tennis champion Rene Lacoste returns a shot,  during the men's singles semi-final match against American Bill Tilden, on the Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London. In the 1920s, French players dominated Wimbledon. In addition to Suzanne Lenglen winning five Wimbledon titles, three different Frenchmen triumphed, Rene Lacoste probably the most famous because of the clothing range he co-founded in 1933. Lacoste won two Wimbledons, as did his peers Jean Borotra and Henri Cochet, all between 1924 and 1929. (AP Photo, File)

    FILE - In this July 4, 1928 file photo, French tennis champion Rene Lacoste returns a shot, during the men's singles semi-final match against American Bill Tilden, on the Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London. In the 1920s, French players dominated Wimbledon. In addition to Suzanne Lenglen winning five Wimbledon titles, three different Frenchmen triumphed, Rene Lacoste probably the most famous because of the clothing range he co-founded in 1933. Lacoste won two Wimbledons, as did his peers Jean Borotra and Henri Cochet, all between 1924 and 1929. (AP Photo, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this July 3, 1936 file photo, Fred Perry of Britain is shown in action in Wimbledon's Men's Singles at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London. When Perry won his third straight Wimbledon in 1936, it’s unlikely that he would have thought it would take another 77 years before another British player would triumph next. But that’s exactly what happened _ Andy Murray ending the drought in 2013. Perry’s name, like Lacoste’s before him, lives on in the fashion label that launched at Wimbledon in 1952. (AP Photo, File)

    FILE - In this July 3, 1936 file photo, Fred Perry of Britain is shown in action in Wimbledon's Men's Singles at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London. When Perry won his third straight Wimbledon in 1936, it’s unlikely that he would have thought it would take another 77 years before another British player would triumph next. But that’s exactly what happened _ Andy Murray ending the drought in 2013. Perry’s name, like Lacoste’s before him, lives on in the fashion label that launched at Wimbledon in 1952. (AP Photo, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this July 1, 1938 file photo, Donald Budge of the U.S. returns a shot, at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London. In winning his second straight Wimbledon title in 1938,  Budge took a step to winning tennis’ Grand Slam of all four major titles. A few weeks later at the U.S. national championships, the Californian would become the first tennis player, male or female, to achieve that feat. (AP Photo, File)

    FILE - In this July 1, 1938 file photo, Donald Budge of the U.S. returns a shot, at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London. In winning his second straight Wimbledon title in 1938, Budge took a step to winning tennis’ Grand Slam of all four major titles. A few weeks later at the U.S. national championships, the Californian would become the first tennis player, male or female, to achieve that feat. (AP Photo, File)  (The Associated Press)

With the dominance of the "Big Four" showing signs of fraying in men's tennis, this year's Wimbledon could be the most unpredictable in years.

Only Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have won on the grass of southwest London since 2002.

For many, winning Wimbledon is the pinnacle of the sport. Very few of the greats have not triumphed at the All England Club, perhaps only Ivan Lendl in the modern era.

Spencer Gore, who won the inaugural Wimbledon in 1877, was the man who supposedly introduced the serve-and-volley. His three-set victory over William Marshall took only 48 minutes.

British players, notably seven-time winner William Renshaw, won the first 30 titles. New Zealand's Anthony Wilding later won four straight titles from 1910-13.

After World War I, Wimbledon's international reach was evident, most notably with the success of French players in the 1920s, such as Rene Lacoste, Jean Borotra and Henri Cochet.

In 1938, Don Budge of the United States became the first player, male or female, to win the Grand Slam of all four major titles. But Australians soon took over as the ones to beat after World War II.

Between 1956 and 1971, Australian players won the Wimbledon title 13 times.

Perhaps the best of them was Rod Laver, who won his third Wimbledon title in 1968 as the Open era started — six years after he turned professional and wasn't allowed to compete in Grand Slam tournaments.

Since then, Wimbledon has had colorful characters and great rivalries, such as Bjorn Borg's battles with John McEnroe in the early 1980s, the athletic prowess of the Boris Becker-Stefan Edberg duels and Pete Sampras' dominance of the 1990s.

Sampras won seven titles, equaling the mark that Renshaw had set back in 1889. Federer joined then in 2012 and is still looking for No. 8.

The Associated Press has been covering Wimbledon for decades. Attached are some of the great champions as captured by photographers from the AP.