Judge confirms British tennis pro is the 'world's worst'

Chris Chase
April 30, 2010

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A British tennis player who took libel action against a newspaper for claiming he was the "world's worst tennis pro" lost his case in court earlier this week when the judge confirmed that he was, indeed, the worst tennis player on the globe.

Robert Dee, 23, ended a 54-match losing streak in 2008 and the news was trumpeted by a number of news outlets in his home country. The Daily Telegraph put a short story on its front page, which began:

"A Briton ranked as the worst professional tennis player in the world after 54 defeats in a row has won his first match."

"Robert Dee, 21, of Bexley, Kent, did not win a single match during his first three years on the circuit, touring at an estimated cost of £200,000.

The tennis pro claimed that he had won matches in Spain during his 54-match international losing streak and that such libel would be detrimental to his reputation and future earnings as a tennis pro. He demanded apologies from news outlets. Over 30, including the BBC, Guardian and Daily Mail, capitulated. The Daily Telegraph resisted though, opting for court and the possible £500,000 in legal fees and even more in a judgment. A judge dismissed Dee's claims though.

Mrs. Justice Sharp declared that since Dee had lost 54 straight international matches, as claimed, the Telegraph was within its rights to mention that this was the world's worst streak. The wins in Spain were in domestic tournaments and, therefore, didn't detract from the fact that he holds the record for the longest losing streak based on the official world-rankings system.

According to the data on the ATP's official Web site, Dee is 0-14 for his career in tour singles events. (The other losses came in the lower-tiered ITF events.) He lost every set and won more than two games on just one occasion. Dee did manage to earn one win in ATP doubles, giving him a 1-10 mark in those matches.