The Queen lived and loved sporting legacies and had own box at Wimbledon

Horse racing might have been the Queen's first love – but her passion for British sport extended well beyond her one great pastime.

Queen Elizabeth is reported to have fallen in love with her future husband on a tennis court in Devon back in 1939, when King George VI took his daughters to the Royal Naval College, where a teenage Prince Phillip could be seen showing off his skills.

So it came as no surprise that having begun her reign in 1952, Wimbledon would become just one of Britain's most iconic sporting venues Her Majesty would frequent on a regular basis.

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She did have her own box on Centre Court, after all. And it was from there the Queen watched spellbound as Virginia Wade beat Betty Stove in 1977 to be crowned Women's Singles Champion.

Dressed in dashing pink, the Queen strode onto the hallowed turf to present Wade with the Rosewater Dish on what just happened to also be Her Majesty's silver jubilee and the centenary of the All England Club.

It was a moment that defined Wade's life and she later recalled, "I think knowing that the Queen was going to be there made me feel, 'Well, if she is going to be there, I better be there. And if I am there, I'd better win."

It was a moment for the ages, but even this had been surpassed more than a decade earlier when the Queen's greatest sporting milestone as Monarch took place at Wembley on July 30, 1966.

This is where she waited for Bobby Moore to climb those famous steps to collect the Jules Rimet trophy after England beat Germany in extra time to win the World Cup.

An estimated 33 million people tuned in to watch the game and subsequent presentation that spawned images which went on to become part of the nation's folklore and history.

Somehow the fact it was the Queen handing over the biggest prize in the biggest sport on the planet at the most famous stadium known to man made it all the more iconic.

She went on to become the greatest Monarch in history. The greatest of Britons who showed a dignified dedication to her duty and service to the country she loved.

And nothing would have given her more pleasure – in a sporting sense – than that summer's afternoon in London.

But her time on the throne spanned so many decades there were other moments which will have come close.

Barely two months before her sad death yesterday at the age of 96, the Queen had been one of the first people in the country to congratulate the Lionesses following their historic Euro 2021 triumph, also over Germany at Wembley.

Within 30 minutes of the victory, she took to social media (how times have changed she must have thought), to express the feelings of an entire nation when she said:

"My warmest congratulations, and those of my family, go to you all on winning the European Women's Football Championships. It is a significant achievement for the entire team.

"You have all set an example that will be an inspiration for girls and women today, and for future generations. It is my hope that you will be as proud of the impact you have had on your sport as you are of the result today."

She witnessed Roger Bannister become the first man to run a mile in under four minutes in 1954, our rugby union and cricket teams conquer the world in 2003 and 2019 respectively and saw in the advent of the Premier League.

She attended the Olympic Games in London in 2012 and revelled in the subsequent gold rush, crowned countless more champions in numerous sports and was rewarded even more in terms of knighthoods and other honours.

She went from telegrams to Twitter when it came to congratulating those who achieved greatness.

In short, the Queen lived and loved sporting legacies she helped create – and the landscape will never feel the same again.


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