In Memoriam: Tennis Champion Tony Trabert
February 4, 2021
On February 3, Tony Trabert, one of the country’s greatest players, who helped to promote this sport for decades, passed away. Here’s the message that USTA President and Chairman of the Board Michael McNulty sent out:
It is with a very heavy heart that I share the news that Tony Trabert, one of American tennis’ greatest players in the 1950’s, who later served as U.S. Davis Cup captain and did such an outstanding job commentating on the US Open from the CBS broadcast booth for years, has passed away. He was 90. Tony was one of our sport’s greatest and most passionate ambassadors, and served our sport with exemplary grace and class in a variety of capacities throughout his long and storied career.
Tony owned 10 major titles in singles and doubles, winning Forest Hills for the first time in 1953. He was the best player in the sport in 1955, winning three of the four Slams—including a second Forest Hills crown—while gaining the world No. 1 ranking.
Tony turned pro in 1956, and not only played but helped to manage the new “professional” tour, his star presence a key factor in the pro game finding a foothold among a global audience. After retiring as a player, Tony started a popular tennis camp in Ojai, Calif., and two years later, we all got to share in his keen insights and understanding of the sport as he began his career as an analyst with CBS. Tony was part of CBS’ US Open broadcasts—and a fixture in our US Open on-court champions’ trophy presentations—until his retirement in 2004. Tony also served as President of the International Tennis Hall of Fame from 2001-2011 and was inducted into the US Open Court of Champions in 2014.
But for all of Tony’s many accomplishments, he was always most proud of his distinguished Davis Cup career. He played in every Challenge Round from 1951-55, leading the U.S. to its only seizure of the Cup from the years-long grip of the Aussies in 1954. He also served as U.S. Davis Cup captain from 1976-1980, guiding the squad to two titles—in 1978 and ’79.
Tony was a special gentleman; a man who truly loved tennis and did so much to promote it and help it to thrive. He embodied the word, “champion,” and he leaves behind a legacy of unparalleled character and class. He will be sorely missed by this sport and by everyone whose lives he touched during his remarkable life. Our sincere sympathies go out to Tony’s wife Vicki, his entire family, and his many friends.