Dick Savitt, who won the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 1951 shortly before walking away from a tennis career at age 25, has died. He was 95.
Savitt’s son, Bob, said the 1976 inductee to the International Tennis Hall of Fame passed away at home in New York on Friday.
“I really don’t think that anybody loved tennis as much as my dad, and the combination of playing, watching and coaching since he was 13 years old is really pretty remarkable,” Bob Savitt said in a telephone interview. “He loved the game and respected the game so much. He loved watching how the quality of tennis improved over the years.”
Richard Savitt was born on March 4, 1927, in Bayonne, New Jersey, and his family later moved to Texas. Savitt played basketball and tennis at Cornell University.
In 1951, he picked up his biggest victories on a tennis court, collecting championships at the Australian Open and Wimbledon — by beating Ken McGregor in both finals — and rising to No. 2 in the rankings. He was featured on the cover of Time Magazine.
Savitt remains one of just four men from the United States to win those two major tournaments in a single season, along with Don Budge, Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras.
Savitt was also a Grand Slam semifinalist on three other occasions. But after winning the U.S. National Indoor Championships in 1952, he retired from the tennis tour, without ever publicly revealing why.
He won gold medals in singles and doubles at the 1961 Maccabiah Games.
“He really didn’t discuss it. He was fortunate to be a successful business person. He was in the oil business for a couple of years and then became a stockbroker. The business world was really good to him and he never looked back,” Bob Savitt said.
“He continued to play tennis four-plus days a week for over 50 years. In his 80s, he went down to three days, and then two,” he said. “He went to the U.S. Open every day and every night just about his entire adult life until the last two years.”
Survivors include three grandchildren.
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