Birthday: June 13, 1915
Died At Age: 84
Sun Sign: Gemini
Born in: Oakland, California, United States
Famous as: Tennis Player
Spouse/Ex-: Loriel Budge (m. ?–2000)
Died on: January 26, 2000
place of death: Scranton, Pennsylvania, United States
U.S. State: California
awards: 1937 - James E. Sullivan Award
1938; 1937 - Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year
Don Budge was an American tennis champion counted among the greatest tennis players of all time. He held the World No. 1 rank for five years, first as an amateur and then as a professional, and was the first player to win the four tournaments that comprise the Grand Slam of tennis in a single year. Born in California as the son of a former soccer player, he was exposed to the world of sports at an early age. Having inherited his father’s love for soccer, he played the sport alongside several others including basketball and tennis. It was during his teenage that he decided to focus more on tennis. Tall and strongly built, he was a pioneer in the practice of power tennis and was probably the first player to use his backhand. At the age of 19 he was selected to represent his country in international Davis Cup competition, and over the ensuing years emerged to be one of the best players of tennis the world had ever produced. He dominated amateur tennis before turning professional, and over the course of his career he won ten majors, of which six were Grand Slams. Following his retirement he coached and conducted tennis clinics for children.
Childhood & Early Life
John Donald "Don" Budge was born in Oakland, California, on June 13, 1915. His father, John "Jack" Budge, was a Scottish immigrant and former soccer player.
Don inherited his love for sports from his father. As a young boy he played a variety of sports including soccer, basketball, and tennis. It was only during his teens that he decided to focus on tennis.
He studied for a while at the University of California, Berkeley in late 1933 but left to play tennis with the U.S. Davis Cup auxiliary team. Tall and slim, he was an agile and powerful player.
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Between 1935 and 1938, he represented the United States four times in international team competition for the Davis Cup, winning 25 of 29 matches, leading the U.S. team to a victory in 1937. His win in the Davis Cup interzone final against Gottfried von Cramm of Germany is counted amongst his finest performances.
He won the Wimbledon singles twice, in quick succession in 1937 and again in 1938. He also won the men’s doubles (with Gene Mako) and the mixed doubles (with Alice Marble) at the tournament in 1938.
Throughout 1938 he dominated amateur tennis, defeating John Bromwich in the Australian Open final, Roderick Menzel in the French Open, and Gene Mako in the U.S. Open. These coupled with his Wimbledon victory made him the first person ever to win the Grand Slam in tennis. He also is the youngest man in history to complete the career Grand Slam.
Following his grand slam win, he turned professional. He played against some of the most formidable players of the era in 1939, and defeated Ellsworth Vines, 22 matches to 17, and Fred Perry, 28 matches to 8.
The year 1939 was a very productive one for him; he won two great pro tournaments, the French Pro Championship over Vines and the Wembley Pro tournament over Hans Nüsslein. In 1940, he won the United States Pro Championship.
He continued his with his brilliant performances in 1941 and 1942 as well. However, he had to take a break from his playing career to serve in the World War II in 1942 and joined the United States Army Air Force.
He tore a muscle during an obstacle course in 1943. The injury did not heal completely but he still continued to serve in the war. Finally in 1945 he was given a medical leave to have an osteopath, Dr. J. LeRoy Near work with him. The injury permanently affected his playing ability.
He played some exhibition matches for the troops during his wartime duties including a U.S Army (Budge-Frank Parker) – U.S. Navy (Riggs-Wayne Sabin) competition under the Davis Cup format in 1945. He played against Riggs several times after the war.
Don Budge lost to Riggs in 1946 in their U.S. Tour. The next year, Riggs once again defeated Budge in the U.S. Pro final in five sets, establishing established himself as the World No. 1 for those two years. Budge again lost in the U.S. Pro finals in 1949 against Riggs.
Following his retirement in the 1950s, he coached and conducted tennis clinics for children. He also took up speaking engagements and endorsed various lines of sporting goods. At the age of 58, he teamed up with former champion Frank Sedgman to win the Veteran's doubles championship at Wimbledon in 1973.
Awards & Achievements
In 1937 and 1938 he was named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.
In 1937 he won the James E. Sullivan Award, becoming the first tennis player to be named America's top amateur athlete.
In 1938, he became the first players ever to win all the four Grand Slam tournaments in the same calendar year.
Don Budge was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport, Rhode Island in 1964.
Personal Life & Legacy
Don Budge married twice. He first married Diedre Conselman in 1941; the marriage produced two sons, David Bruce and Jeffrey Donald, and ended in divorce.
He tied the knot for the second time with Loriel McPherson in 1967.
He was severely injured in an accident in December 1999. He never fully recovered from his injuries and died on January 26, 2000, at the age of 84.