Jack Kramer, a tennis champion in the 1940s and ’50s as well as a promoter for tennis for over 60 years, died at his home in Los Angeles at the age of 88.
Bob Kramer said his father died on Saturday night of a soft tissue cancer that he was diagnosed with in July.
Jack Kramer won the Wimbledon men’s singles title in 1947 and the men’s U.S. Championships. Kramer was the forerunner of the U.S. Open, in 1946 and ‘47. He was the No. 1 player in the world for much of the late 1940s.
Kramer’s family has run a pro tennis tournament in LA for many years.
From the New York Times:
During the broadcast of the Rafael Nadal-Juan Martin Del Potro semifinal at the Open, ESPN’s Cliff Drysdale reported the death and Pam Shriver confirmed that the family was aware of the network’s announcement.
Known for his “big game” — a serve-and-volley attack complemented by his stinging forehand that presaged the modern attacking style — Kramer emerged as a marquee amateur player in the years following World War II, Richard Goldstein writes in an obituary that will soon be published on nytimes.com.
John Albert Kramer was born in Las Vegas on Aug. 1, 1921, the son of a brakeman for the Union Pacific Railroad. He learned to play tennis in the Los Angeles area as a teenager when his family moved there. His idol was Ellsworth Vines, the former United States Nationals and Wimbledon champion, whom he played against in workouts.
Kramer won the 1946 and 1947 men’s singles title at the United States Nationals at Forest Hills, the forerunner to the United States Open, and he captured the Wimbledon singles in 1947. He won the United States doubles championship four times and the Wimbledon doubles twice and played on Davis Cup teams that defeated Australia in 1946 and ’47.
Kramer showcased the professional game as a player and a promoter in the two decades leading up to the arrival in 1968 of ”open” tennis, when pros were finally allowed to compete for prize money in tournaments previously open only to amateurs. He turned pro with a memorable match against Bobby Riggs, the defending pro champion, at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 26, 1947, before a crowd of 15,114 that trudged through a 26-inch blizzard. Kramer lost to Riggs in four sets but succeeded him as champion by decisively besting him in a series of one-night stands across the country in 1948. He retained his championship by defeating Pancho Gonzalez, Pancho Segura and Frank Sedgman, respectively, on tours in the three seasons after that.
“He put more continuing pressure on an opponent than any other player I ever saw or played against,” Ted Schroeder, Kramer’s partner for two United States doubles championships, told The Associated Press in 2002. “That goes all the way back to Bill Tilden.”
Details of a memorial service were expected later this week.
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