Coyne Long to be inducted into ITHF

January 26, 2013

MELBOURNE — In a successful and lengthy career that spanned more than two decades from 1936 to 1958, Australian tennis great Thelma Coyne Long won a total of 19 Grand Slam tournament titles, including championships in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. In recognition of her incredible success, Coyne Long will be given the highest honor in the sport of tennis- enshrinement into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Coyne Long will be honored in the Master Player Category in the Class of 2013. The Enshrinement Ceremony is scheduled for July 13, 2013 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island in the United States. Coyne Long is now 94 years old and living in the Sydney area.

“Thelma Coyne Long is undoubtedly one of the greatest Australian tennis players. With her 19 Grand Slam victories, she certainly earned the title of ‘tennis legend,’ and she also contributed greatly to the growth of the sport as a dedicated coach,” commented Hall of Famer Brian Tobin, past-president of Tennis Australia and honorary life president of the International Tennis Federation. “She is most deserving of this honor and I am delighted to learn that she will be rightly recognized among the greatest champions of the sport with enshrinement into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I extend my best wishes and congratulations to Thelma on this honor.”

Hall of Fame President Stan Smith, who also serves as chair of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee commented, “Thelma Coyne Long dominated women’s tennis during her playing era, and she is an extraordinary athlete in Australian sports history. We felt it fitting that the news of this well-deserved honor be announced during the Australian Open, the tournament where she had such tremendous success in the 1930s through 1950s. On behalf of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, I extend our congratulations to Thelma. We look forward to celebrating her career in the year ahead and to announcing her fellow Class of 2013 Hall of Famers in early March.”

Eighteen of Coyne Long’s 19 titles were achieved at the Australian Championships. To this day, Coyne Long remains the holder of several records at the tournament, which is now the Australian Open. She remains the oldest Australian women’s singles champion (35 years and eight months in 1954) and the oldest Australian women’s doubles champion (37 years and 7 months in 1956). With 12 Australian doubles titles to her name, she is the record holder for most Australian doubles titles won by a man or woman. She won 10 of those titles with the late Hall of Famer Nancye Wynne Bolton, and together, the pair hold the record for most Australian doubles titles by a team.

In 1952, Coyne Long completed an Australian triple, winning the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles.

In all, she won two singles titles (1952 and 1954), 12 doubles titles (1936-1940,1947-1949, 1951, 1952, 1956, 1958), and four mixed doubles titles at the Australian tournament (1951, 1952, 1954, 1955). Her nineteenth major title was the 1956 mixed doubles title at the French Championships. She was a doubles finalist at Wimbledon in 1957.

She achieved a career best ranking of world No. 7 in 1952.

In May 1941, during World War II, Coyne Long joined the Red Cross as a transport driver and worked in Melbourne, Australia. In February 1942, she joined the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) and rose to the rank of captain in April 1944. In recognition of her efforts throughout World War II, she was awarded both the Australian War Medal and Australian Service Medal for 1939-1945.

Upon her retirement from tennis, Coyne Long became a coach and mentored many junior players in her home state of New South Wales.

In 2000, she was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in recognition of her extraordinary career and contributions to the sport, and in 2002 she was inducted to the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame.

Coyne Long has been voted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame as part of the Master Player Category, which is available to competitors in the sport who have been retired for at least 20 years prior to consideration, and who have a distinguished record of competitive achievement at the highest international level, with consideration given to integrity, sportsmanship and character.

Coyne Long is the first of the International Tennis Hall of Fame Class of 2013 enshrinees to be announced. The remainder of the class will be announced on March 4 as part of World Tennis Day. The other nominees are former world No. 1 Martina Hingis, Wimbledon champion Michael Stich, doubles specialist Helena Sukova, and influential tennis industry contributors Cliff Drysdale, Charlie Pasarell, and Ion Tiriac.