05-11-2007, 10:43 PM
Oh yeah, he's already dead.
I don't mean this in a bad way, but are you high?
05-13-2007, 01:17 PM
Here is what is written about Tilden at the Internation Tennis Hall of Fame website:
If a player's value is measured by the dominance and influence he exercises over a sport, then William Tatem "Big Bill" Tilden II could be considered the greatest player in the history of tennis.
From 1920 through 1926, he dominated the game as has no player before or since. During those years he was invincible in the United States, won Wimbledon both times he competed there, and captured 13 successive singles matches in the Davis Cup challenge round against the best players from Australia, France and Japan.
As an amateur (1912-30) he won 138 of 192 tournaments, lost 28 finals and had a 907-62 match record--a phenomenal .936 average.
His last major triumph, the Wimbledon singles of 1930, gave him a total of 10 majors, standing as the male high until topped by Roy Emerson (12) in 1967, and later Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg (11). He missed another by two match points he held against René Lacoste in the 1927 French final. Bill won the U.S. Mixed with Mary K. Browne in 1913-14, but had been beaten in the first round of the 1912 Singles at Newport by fellow Philadelphian Wallace Johnson (whom he would defeat in the 1921 final). He didn't feel sure enough of his game to try again until 1916, in New York. He was 23, a first-round loser to a kid named Harold Throckmorton. Ignominious, tardy starts in an illustrious career that would contain seven U.S. titles and 69 match victories (a record 42 straight between 1920 and 1926).
By 1918, a war-riddled year, he got to the final, blown away by a bullet-serving Lindley Murray, 6-3, 6-1, 7-5. But he'd be back: seven more finals in a row. In 1918 Big Bill's electrifying rivalry with Little Bill Johnston began--six U.S. finals in seven years, more than any other two men skirmished for a major. After losing to Little Bill in 1919, Tilden, disgusted with his puny defensive backhand, hid out all winter at the indoor court of a friend, J.D.E. Jones, in Providence, retooling. He emerged with a brand new, fearsome, multifaceted backhand and complete game, and was ready to conquer the world. He did not lose to Little Bill again in a U.S. final, and held an 11-6 edge in their rivalry. His concentration could be awesome, as during a two-tournament stretch in 1925 when he won 57 straight games at Glen Cove, NY, and Providence. Trailing Alfred Chapin, one of few to hold a win over him, 3-4 in the final, he ran it out, 6-4, 6-0, 6-0. Staying in tune on the next stop he won three straight 6-0, 6-0, matches, then 6-0, 6-1. Another 6-1 set made it 75 of 77 games.
When he first won Wimbledon, in 1920, he was 27 years old, an advanced age for a champion. But he had a long and influential career, and at the age of 52, in 1945, he was still able to push the 27-year-old Bobby Riggs to the limit in a professional match.
Tilden, a right-hander, born February 10, 1893, in Philadelphia, had the ideal tennis build, 6-foot-2, 155, with thin shanks and big shoulders. He had speed and nimbleness, coordination and perfect balance. He also had marked endurance, despite smoking cigarettes incessantly when not playing. In stroke equipment, he had the weapons to launch an overpowering assault and the resources to defend and confound through a variety of spins and pace when the opponent was impervious to sheer power.
Nobody had a more devastating service than Tilden's cannonball, or a more challenging second serve than his kicking American twist. No player had a stronger combination of forehand and backhand drives, supplemented by a forehand chop and backhand slice. Tilden's mixture of shots was a revelation in his first appearance at Wimbledon. Gerald Patterson of Australia, the defending champion, found his backcourt untenable and was passed over and over when he went to the net behind his powerful service. Tilden won, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.
The backcourt was where Tilden played tennis. He was no advocate of the "big game," the big serve and rush for the net for the instant volley coup. He relished playing tennis as a game of chess, matching wits as well as physical powers. The drop shot, at which he was particularly adroit, and the lob were among his disconcerting weapons.
His knowledge and mastery of spin has hardly ever been exceeded, as evidenced not only on the court but also in his "Match Play and the Spin of the Ball", a classic written more than half a century ago. Yes, Tilden was a writer, too, but he longed to be an actor above anything else. Unsuccessful in his efforts to the point of sinking most of his family wealth, his tennis earnings and his writing royalties into the theater, he was happiest when playing on the heartstrings of a tennis gallery.
Intelligent and opinionated, he was a man of strong likes and dislikes. He had highly successful friends, both men and women, who were devoted to him, and there were others who disliked him and considered him arrogant and inconsiderate of officials and ball boys who served at his matches. He was constantly wrangling with officers and committeemen of the USTA on Davis Cup policy and enforcement of the amateur rule, and in 1928 he was on the front pages of the American press when he was removed as captain and star player of the Davis Cup team, charged with violating the amateur rule with his press accounts of the Wimbledon Championships, in which he was competing. So angry were the French over the loss of the star member of the cast for the Davis Cup challenge round--the first ever held on French soil--that the American ambassador, Myron T. Herrick, interceded for the sake of good relations between the countries, and Tilden was restored to the team.
When Tilden, in the opening match, beat René Lacoste, the French gallery suffered agony and cursed themselves for insisting that "Teelden" be restored to the team. It all ended happily for them, however, as the French won the other four matches and kept the Davis Cup. On Tilden's return home, he was brought up on the charges of violating the rule at Wimbledon. He was found guilty and was suspended from playing in the U.S. Championships that year.
Eligible for the U.S. title again in 1929, after the lifting of his suspension, he won the crown for the seventh time, defeating his doubles partner, Frank Hunter. In 1930 he won Wimbledon for the third time, at the age of 37. After the U.S. Championships, in which he was beaten in the semifinals by John Doeg, he notified the tennis association of his intention to make a series of motion pictures for profit, thus disqualifying him for further play as an amateur. He was in the World Top Ten from 1919 through 1930, No. 1 a record six times (1920-25), and in the U.S. Top Ten 12 straight years from 1918, No. 1 a record 10 times (1920-29). He was named to the Hall of Fame in 1959.
In 1931 he entered upon a professional playing career, joining Vincent Richards, Hans Nusslein and Roman Najuch of Germany and Karel Kozeluh of Czechoslovakia. Tilden's name revived pro tennis, which had languished since its inception in 1926 when Suzanne Lenglen went on tour. His joining the pros paved the way for Ellsworth Vines, Fred Perry and Don Budge to leave the amateur ranks and play for big prize money. Tilden won his pro debut against Kozeluh, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, before 13,000 fans in Madison Square Garden.
Joining promoter Bill O'Brien, Tilden toured the country in 1932 and 1933, but the Depression was on and new blood was needed. Vines furnished it. Tilden and O'Brien signed him on, and in 1934 Tilden defeated Vines in the younger man's pro debut, 8-6, 6-3, 6-2, before a turnaway crowd of 16,200 at Madison Square Garden. That year Tilden and Vines went on the first of the great tennis tours, won by Vines, 47-26.
The tours grew in the 1930s and '40s, and Tilden remained an attraction even though he was approaching the age of 50. For years he traveled across the country, driving by day and sometimes all night and then going on a court a few hours after arriving. At times, when he was managing his tour, he had to help set the stage for the matches.
Tragically, his activity and fortunes dwindled after his conviction on a morals charge and imprisonment in 1947, and again in 1949 for parole violation (both terms less than a year). He died of a heart attack under pitiful circumstances, alone and with few resources, on June 5, 1953, in Los Angeles. His bag was packed for a trip to Cleveland to play in the U.S. Pro Championships when perhaps the greatest tennis player of them all was found dead in his room.
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