A Waterford man became Ireland’s first ever Wimbledon champion before being convicted of murder.

Vere St Leger Goold competed in the tournament in 1879 before dying in prison after he was convicted of a murder in Monte Carlo.

The tennis champion’s life story is being told in a new play “Love All”, which will go up at the Clonmel Junction Festival in Tipperary next weekend.

The 25-year-old was a talented sportsman when he competed in the British tournament during its third year.

Despite a promising start he was beaten in the finals 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 by Rev John Hartly who later described the runner up as a "cheery, wild Irishman".
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Continued failings on the tennis court and an over indulgence in alcohol saw Goold retire in 1883.

In went on to marry a French divorcee called Marie Giraudin, who came family of seamstress’ with expensive taste. The newly-weds descended into debt, living in Canada for a while before moving to laundry in 1903.

Desperate for cash, the couple set off for the casinos of Monte Carlo in 1907. Goold’s wife was confident she had figured out a gambling system, however soon money ran out.

The borrowed money from several sources included a Danish woman named Emma Liven who lent them 1,000 Francs.

After lending money to several people Liven decided to leave France, before departing she called into the Goolds in attempts to recover her money. An argument ensued and Liven was killed.

Guilt the couple attempted to flee to London but the police caught up with them before they left Marseilles.

Transported Liven’s dead body in a trunk, a porter became suspicious of a bad smell and alerted the police.  After arrest the married couple swore innocence and maintained Liven’s murderer was a former lover.

The Irishman then confessed to save his wife but later during the murder trial, both were sentences to life imprisonment.

Marie died from typhoid fever in 1914 while Goold died by apparent suicide the following year.

Old illustration of Wimbledon TennisGoogle