Thelma Coyne Long has passed away

April 15, 2015

NEWPORT, R.I. – Thelma Coyne Long, a great Australian tennis champion of the 1950’s and the winner of 19 major titles, passed away peacefully on Tuesday. She was 96 years old.

Long captured her first major title in 1936 and her last, an impressive 22 years later, in 1958. Over the course of those two decades, Long won a total of 19 Grand Slam tournament titles, including championships in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. In recognition of her tremendous success, she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013.

Long was a dominant doubles player, winning 12 of her major titles in doubles, but she also won two majors in singles, as well as five major titles in mixed doubles. In 1952, she completed the Australian Championships triple, winning singles, doubles, and mixed doubles in her home event. Eighteen of Long’s 19 titles were achieved at the Australian Championships. Her nineteenth major title was the 1956 mixed doubles title at the French Championships. She was also a doubles finalist at Wimbledon in 1957.

Long holds the record as 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 May 1941, during World War II, 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, Long became a coach and she 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.

A funeral service for Long will be held in a chapel of Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park Crematorium in Matraville, NSW on Monday April 20, 2015 at 11:30 a.m.