June 1st, 2015

Florida’s Hart, Former Tennis World No. 1, Dies at Age 89

Adult Tennis News
Doris Hart in 1953

Doris Hart in 1953

Florida’s Doris Hart, one of the most prolific champions of the 1940s and ’50s, died on May 29, 2015 at her home in Coral Gables, Fla., at the age of 89.

Hart is one of only three women’s players (with Margaret Court and Martina Navratilova) in history to win the “box set” of Grand Slams — every Grand Slam title in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

Ranked No. 1 in the world in 1951, she won 35 majors including consecutive U.S. National Championship (forerunner to the US Open) singles titles in 1954-55, and four straight doubles titles at Forest Hills in 1951-54.

“Doris also posted what may well be the greatest day of results in tennis history,” said USTA National President Katrina Adams, “winning the singles, as well as the rain-delayed doubles and mixed crowns in a single day at Wimbledon in 1951.”

As a child Hart dealt with osteomyelitis, which resulted in a permanently impaired right leg. She was still a student at the University of Miami when she won her first Grand Slam title in women’s doubles at Wimbledon in 1947. The Coral Gables native made up for her lack of movement with incredible court sense, the ability to dominate at the net and a deft drop shot.

“Doris represented the U.S. with pride, and was a member of the U.S. Wightman Cup team from 1946-1955, compiling a perfect 14-0 record in singles and an 8-1 mark in doubles,” Adams said. “She captained the U.S. team to the Wightman Cup title in 1970. After retiring from playing in 1955, Doris worked as a teaching pro in Florida for more than 25 years.”

In singles she won the French Open twice and Wimbledon and the Australian Open once each.

“What a great champion and ambassador for tennis she was for over 80 years,” said USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth. “She will be missed.”

Hart was inducted in the first year of the Florida Tennis Hall of Fame in 1981 along with Chris Evert, Frank Froehling III, Gardnar Mulloy, Edward A. Turville and Clarence Varner.

“She is someone I looked up [to],” said Florida Tennis Hall of Fame member Donna Fales, 74, speaking to The Guardian. “She was a great champion and great competitor with great integrity; a wonderful representative of the sport.”