TONY TRABERT: 1930-2021
Tony Trabert, who died at the age of 90, was a charismatic American tennis star who won 10 major singles and doubles in the 1950s before becoming a respected Davis Cup captain and commentator. Only one loss to Ken Rosewall in the semifinals of the Australian championships denied him the Grand Slam in 1955, when he won the French, Wimbledon and US championships and was classified as the best amateur in the world.
Tony Trabert returns to Kurt Nielson at Center Court at Wimbledon on July 1, 1955. Recognition:AP
Marion Anthony Trabert was born into a working class family in Cincinnati on August 16, 1930 and lived two doors down from public clay courts, where he played fanatical from early childhood. His father Arch borrowed money to pay for his training, and by the age of 11 he won numerous junior tournaments. US Davis Cup star Bill Talbert discovered his talent at the Cincinnati Tennis Club and became his mentor.
Training on slow clay courts improved Trabert’s extremely consistent groundstrokes, and at Walnut Hills High School he proved to be highly intelligent and an excellent all-rounder who excelled at tennis and basketball. He was trained by George Menefee at the University of Cincinnati and won the NCAA Individual Championship in 1951. He was the first security guard on the Bearcats basketball team. At the age of 21, he beat Talbert for the first time in the prestigious Cincinnati tournament.
Despite his two-year stint in the US Navy, which he served aboard an aircraft carrier during the Korean War, his tennis career flourished. He won the US title in 1953, then enjoyed “the greatest thrill of my tennis career” and led America to its sensational Davis Cup victory, which ended the Australians’ four-year winning streak.
Legends of the day: Americans Tony Trabert and Vic Seixas and Australians Ken Rosewall and Lew Hoad before their Davis Cup clash in White City in 1954.Recognition:The age archive
He defeated child prodigy Lew Hoad while Wimbledon champion Vic Seixas defeated Ken Rosewall. The US couple then grabbed the crucial double rubber in four sets.
“I’ve played him in doubles several times,” recalls British tennis expert John Barrett. “He was incredibly powerful, an aggressive serve volley with a rare topspin backhand and a good serve. He was a tough competitor, but always scrupulously fair, handsome, and popular because he was so real. I saw an iconic picture of him on the cover of World Tennis Magazine and thought, “This is the guy I want to be.” ”
Trabert reached five Grand Slam Singles Finals and won them all. In 1955, his annus mirabilis, he won the French, US and Wimbledon championships without losing a set. His US victories, in which he lost only seven games to Hoad in the semifinals and won against Rosewall in the final, were among the greatest of his life.