Legends Rod Laver and Billie Jean King paid tribute on Sunday to Australian player Owen Davidson, winner of 13 Grand Slam doubles tournaments, who died on Friday at the age of 79.
Considered by the ATP Tour as “the most accomplished mixed doubles player in the history of tennisDavidson teamed with King to win eight of his major trophies. “Owen was the only man I could win mixed doubles with at WimbledonKing tweeted. “Our hearts are broken, but we find solace in the whole life of wonderful memories we shared with our friend +Davo+“, she explained. Davidson’s career spanned the early 1960s through the mid-1970s, winning 11 Grand Slam titles in mixed doubles and two in men’s doubles.
At the time, his singles performances suffered from comparison with those of his illustrious compatriots Fred Stolle, John Newcombe, Tony Roche, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver, and Ken Rosewall. He nonetheless wrote his name in the history books when he became the first player to win an Open-era match, beating John Clifton in the first round of the British Hardcourt Championships at Bournemouth in 1968.
In 1967, Davidson became the third player to win all four major mixed doubles titles in the same year, starting at home in Adelaide with compatriot Lesley Turner. The next three titles were won with King.
Wimbledon singles semi-finalist
In total, the King-Davidson duo won four Wimbledons, three US Opens and a Roland-Garros. Their greatest triumph was arguably the 1971 Wimbledon final, when they beat the formidable team of Margaret Court and Marty Riessen in an epic match (3-6, 6-2, 15-13). As a doubles player, Davidson won two major tournaments: the 1972 Australian Open with Ken Rosewall and the US Open the following year with John Newcombe. His best singles performance was reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1966, beaten by Manolo Santana.
He had also reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open five times, once at Roland-Garros and twice at the US Open. “I am saddened to learn of the ping of Owen Davidson.said Rod Laver. “He was a left-hander like me, a great sports champion, the best in doubles and, above all, a great friend. Rest in peace +Davo+“. A longtime American resident, Davidson was born in Melbourne in 1943 and died in Texas.
He was inducted into the International tennis hall of fame in 2010. Craig Tiley, chairman of Tennis Australia, called him on Sunday “atrue australian sports legend“.