Budge Patty, 1950 Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion, dies at the age of 97 | ATP circuit

Budge Patty, the easygoing American who won the Roland Garros and Wimbledon titles in 1950 during a 15-year amateur career, has died in a hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, aged 97.

Patty, a service volleyball player on the court and a playboy outside of it when he moved to Paris after World War II, has become a fluent speaker of French. In 1950, the year he decided to quit smoking, Patty scored three straight fifth set victories at Roland Garros, culminating in a 6-1, 6-2, 2-6, 5-7 final victory. , 7-5 against Jaroslav. He and Drobny got the warmth of the crowd. A year earlier, he had finished second behind fellow American Frank Parker.

A month after her victory on Parisian clay, Patty built a serve and return strategy to defeat Frank Sedgman in the Wimbledon final. After watching Sedgman in Paris and at the Queen’s Club, Patty realized that the Australian didn’t like rushing into the net and instead preferred to dictate the tempo of the match. Patty warmed up for the Wimbledon final on an outdoor court with Tony Trabert barely hitting a ball in the field. But by the time he stepped onto center court, the 26-year-old settled in quickly and won 6-1, 8-10, 6-2, 6-3.

International Tennis Hall of Fame President Stan Smith said: “Budge Patty was one of America’s great players of the 1940s and 1950s. To win over 70 tournament titles is remarkable, and to win Wimbledon and Roland Garros. consecutively is a huge achievement. . Although he competed before my time, I have often heard how beautiful and elegant his playing is. He will be remembered as one of the greatest champions in the history of tennis “.

Photo: STF / AFP via Getty Images

Born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, the Patty family quickly moved to Los Angeles, California. He first played tennis at the age of nine with his older brother, who nicknamed him “Budge” for his laziness and “failure to move”, on the courts of Los Angeles High School and at Queen’s. Anne Park. As a junior, he trained every Saturday at 6 a.m. with Pauline Betz, a five-time major singles champion, who lived nearby.

After Patty won the Los Angeles Novice Championship at the age of 13, Betz heard about a tennis pro called Bill Weissbuch, assistant to Eleanor Tennant and coach of five-time major singles winner Alice Marble. , who was looking to develop a young talent. Betz promoted Patty, 13, who caught the eye of actors Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor, and over the next two years he won every tournament he attended. He took lessons with Weissbuch at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club, owned and operated by Fred Perry and Ellsworth Vines.

Weissbuch pushed the need to play aggressive tennis, and it was a 6-0, 6-0 loss to Bill Tilden at the club that forced the 5’4 “Patty to give up her base game. his autobiography of 1951, Tennis my way, Patty wrote: “Tilden said to me at the end,” Sonny you play a really good game of tennis, but you’re never gonna be better than right now unless you learn to play some type of tennis. a little more aggressive play. Learn to fly and attack as much as possible. This is the only way to become a champion. “

Patty won the U.S. National Under-15 title in 1939, the Under-18 singles and doubles titles in 1941 – saving one match point against Vic Seixas in the singles final – and worked on his game the following year, when he retained the title, after he left high school. He had planned to go to the University of Southern California in 1942, but a few days after his enlistment he was called up to the United States Army. After six months, he was allowed to leave camp each day in Salt Lake City to train for three consecutive weeks to win the Utah State Championship title. Subsequently, Patty spent two years in Italy with the public relations department of the 12th Air Force and was demobilized in January 1946.

Patty
Photo: AFP / Getty Images

Less than four years after his first appearance at Wimbledon in 1946, where a number of center court seats were still stranded due to bomb damage, John Olliff, former Davis Cup player and tennis correspondent for The daily telegraph, called Patty the world’s No. 1 amateur in 1950. To date, Patty is only one of three American men – Don Budge in 1938 and Trabert in 1955 – to have achieved the double at Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

At Wimbledon in 1953, Patty failed to convert six match points on Drobny’s serve in a third round match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes – a record at the time for the longest tennis match. continued. In doubles, Patty won the Roland Garros mixed title in 1946 with Betz and teamed up with Gardnar Mulloy, who died at the age of 102 in November 2016, for the doubles title at Wimbledon in 1957. He also finished second in doubles with Mulloy at the US two championships. months later.

Often criticized for not having played enough on American soil, Patty then worked as a travel agent from her Paris residence (her home since 1948) and had small roles in films, before going into real estate. He married the daughter of a Brazilian engineering magnate, Marcina Maria Sfezzo, his wife for 60 years and they lived in Lausanne, Switzerland. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1977, made annual visits to the All England Club at Wimbledon, and continued to play three or four times a week until the late 1980s, often using his old timers. wooden frames.

Patty is survived by his wife and their two daughters, Christine and Elaine.

John ‘Budge’ Edward Patty, tennis player, born February 11, 1924, died October 3, 2021.

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