Hall-of-Famer Vic Seixas, a U.S. & Wimbledon Winner, Passes Away at Age 100

July 7, 2024

The following tribute was written by ITHF Historian-At-Large Joel Drucker:

Elias Victor Seixas, the winner of 15 major titles and a Davis Cup champion, died on July 5 at the age of 100. Seixas, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971, had been the oldest living Hall of Famer.

Fitness, foot speed, and superb volleys were the cornerstones of Seixas’ lengthy career. As just one example of his longevity, Seixas played the U.S. National Championships (now the US Open) a record 28 times from 1940 to 1969.

Of Seixas’ 15 major titles, two came in singles, with Seixas winning Wimbledon in 1953 and the U.S. Championships one year later.

In doubles, Seixas captured five men’s majors – two apiece with Tony Trabert at the U.S. Nationals in ’52 and ‘54 (later the US Open) and Roland-Garros (’54 and ’55), as well as one at the Australian Championships alongside Mervyn Rose in ‘52. Seixas also excelled in mixed doubles, earning eight majors – four straight at Wimbledon from ’53-’56, a three-peat at the U.S. Nationals from ’53-’55 and one triumph at Roland-Garros in ‘53. All but one of those mixed doubles titles were won with Doris Hart, the lone exception coming at Wimbledon in ’56, Seixas that year partnering with Shirley Fry.

Davis Cup was a Seixas priority. Compiling an overall record of 38-17, (24-12 in singles, 14-5 in doubles), Seixas played on U.S. teams that reached the Davis Cup final seven straight years between 1951-’57. All of these were versus the mighty Australians. America’s lone championship run in that stretch came in 1954, Seixas contributing significantly with an opening day singles win over Ken Rosewall and a clinching victory in the doubles with Trabert.
Vic Seixas Memoriam 16×9
Seixas was born in Philadelphia on August 30, 1923. Raised in a middle-class family, Seixas loved sports and earned high school letters in track, basketball, squash, tennis and baseball. Throughout his youth, his big dream was to play for the Philadelphia Phillies. Of course, Seixas proved more successful at tennis. While still in his teens, Seixas cracked the U.S. top ten – a place he’d hold 13 times between 1942 and ’66.

Enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1941, Seixas subsequently spent three years in the military and resumed his studies in 1946. Upon earning his degree in 1949, Seixas spent the better part of the next decade traveling the world on the amateur tennis circuit.

Seixas’ nimble form of athleticism made him a natural on the slick grass that was prevalent in his time. Perhaps indeed, Wimbledon and Seixas were meant for one another. In 1950, in his All England Club debut, Seixas made a surprising run to the semis. Three years later, seeded second, he went the distance. Most impressive was a five-set quarterfinal win over Lew Hoad, Seixas squeaking it out, 9-7 in the fifth. The semis also took five sets, Seixas taking down an Aussie, Mervyn Rose. In the final, Seixas beat unseeded Kurt Nielsen in three sets.

Seixas run to the U.S. Nationals title in 1954 was much less dramatic. Not once was he extended to five sets. Seeded third, Seixas beat Australian Rex Hartwig in the finals in four sets. That year, at the age of 31, Seixas also achieved a rare triple at the same major – earning the singles, men’s doubles with Trabert and mixed with Hart. Only twice since has a man done that.

A strong devotion to fitness also helped Seixas enjoy tremendous longevity. Between 1940 and ’69, he played the US Nationals (which became the US Open in ’68) a record 28 times

Seixas also was tournament referee during the 1971 US Open, as well as a three-time Davis Cup captain. Later, he taught tennis at such notable venues as the Hilton Hotel in New Orleans and the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. Since 1989, Seixas resided north of San Francisco, spending much of his time at The Club at Harbor Point.

Sexas is survived by his daughter, Tori Seixas.