1951, Dick Savitt won the Wimbledon Singles Championship,
the Australian Singles
title, and was the number one player on
the United States Davis Cup Team. In
his prime, Savitt was considered the
greatest back-court player in the game
and was ranked third in the World in
1951 by World Tennis. That year Savitt was No.
2 in the world, and in his prime was considered the greatest
backcourt player in the game.
The 6’3”, 180 lb. Cornell University graduate
ranked four times in the World’s Top Ten between
1951 and 1957––No. 2 in 1951; and six times
in the U.S. Top Ten between 1950 and 1959––No.
2 in 1951. (Interestingly, the player ranked ahead of Savitt
on the 1951 U.S. list, Vic Seixas, was ranked No. 4 in
the World, two spots below Savitt on the more weighty World
roster. It should also be noted that Savitt did not compete
Although at the top of his game, Savitt abruptly retired
from competitive tennis after winning the 1952 U.S. National
Indoor Singles Championships. Although
he has never publicly discussed his sudden
retirement, it was considered most
likely the result of a never-explained
snub by the United States Davis Cup
Savitt had played and won his early
1951 Cup matches en route to leading the American team
into the championship
round against Australia. His
coaches, however, did not permit him to
compete against the Aussies whom, only months earlier,
he had dominated
at Wimbledon and in Australia. He had
trounced Australia’s top seed Ken Mc-Gregor in three
straight sets to win at
Wimbledon and won the Australian Singles
championship, becoming the first
non-Aussie to win that title in 13 years.
To the surprise of few, with Savitt not
playing singles, the United States lost
the 1951 Davis Cup to Australia.
Savitt returned to the competitive
tennis scene part-time in 1956, and
though his limited tournament competition
prevented him from receiving an
official ranking, he was nonetheless
considered the number one player in
the United States.
Among Dick Savitt’s major victories
are the 1952, 1958, and 1961 U.S.
National Indoor Championships. He
was the first to win that crown three
times. In 1961, he won both the Singles
and Doubles (with Mike Franks)
Championships at the World Maccabiah
Games in Israel.
Savitt was elected to the International
Tennis Hall of Fame in 1976.