Donald Budge: An American Tennis Legend
The legendary American tennis player, John Donald Budge, was and is still considered one of the best players to every play the game. He enjoyed an incredible career that involved winning all four Grand Slam singles titles in 1938, and became the first player to ever do that. During his span of amateur and professional play he was a World Number One player for five of those years. He passed away on January 26, 2000 but his outstanding career is kept alive in the hearts and minds of tennis players everywhere.
Donald Budge was born on June 13, 1915, and started to make a splash in the tennis scene while in his early twenties. By about 1937 he had started to come into his own and showed that he had the ability to dominate the sport. He became the first male tennis player to win the Wimbledon's men's doubles, men's singles, and mixed doubles all in the very same year. Later in 1937 he also led the U.S. team to win the Davis Cup, which was the first time they had done so in over a decade. The very next year, in 1938, was when he took home all four of the Grand Slam tournaments and solidified his reputation at the top of the Tennis Standings.
Budge was given the honor of being given the James E. Sullivan award in 1937 for being the nation's outstanding amateur athlete and then was later named Athlete of the Year in both 1937 and 1938 by members of the Associated Press. This was done largely in part by the incredible stats he had built up in that year and a half period. Don had won 92 matches in a row as well as 14 different tournaments.
In the early forties, Budge took a leave from Tennis to join the Air Force and serve in WWII. In 1943, he tore a shoulder muscle during one of the vigorous trainings. He was still able to perform most of his military duties for the next two years until he took a medical leave in 1945 to see an osteopath to work with his injury. His tennis game would never quite be the same again, but he would still go on to beat some of the world's best tennis players in their prime including Pancho Gonzales in 1954.
As far as where Donald Budge sits in terms of all-time tennis greats, the topic has been largely debated by tennis pros around the world. He is considered by many to be the greatest player to play the game. His 6'1" frame and one handed backstroke were perfectly suited to the tennis scene and he played with powerful strokes and quick reflexes. One thing that most experts agree on is that he was the best player before WWII and still holds his own with those that followed after. Only Jack Kramer and Ellsworth Vines could be considered better than Budge in his prime.
No matter where he stands on the all-time greatest list, it is very apparent that Donald Budge was the most dominant tennis player of his generation and has secured his place in tennis history. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964, in Newport Rhode Island, and his legacy will continue to live on.