Last NameSportCountryYear Inducted

Sport: Tennis
Inducted: 1979
Country: United States
Born: March 4, 1927 in Bayonne, New Jersey
Died: January 6, 2023 in New York

In 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 1953-1955.)

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 coaching staff.

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.

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