PLEASE NOTE: I've since published a revised version of this post to my tennis history blog. Since there was some interest in my earlier thread on the classic 1937 Davis Cup semifinal match, I thought I would share some general observations on Budge. I try to read at least one new book on the history of tennis every month, often finding that the best material was written several decades ago and is no longer in print. Two of my favorite sources, which I have commended on this forum before, are Paul Metzler’s Tennis Styles and Stylists and Will Grimsley’s Tennis: Its History, People and Events, the latter of which also includes a piece by Julius Heldman called Styles of the Greats. By comparing current perceptions to the accounts of their contemporaries (or near-contemporaries), one finds that the memory of past greats has indeed dimmed considerably. Tilden is now remembered as much for his sexual transgressions as for his many years of superb tennis, and how many fans today can recount the achievements of H.L. Doherty, Norman Brookes, or the "Four Musketeers"? Many know Budge’s name as that of the winner of tennis’s first Grand Slam, a feat that was in a sense bettered by Laver in ’62 and ’69, though this only scratches the surface of Budge’s incredible career. If Budge’s memory has dimmed, I say it is time we turn the light back up and remember. Imagine a player possessing all of Roger Federer’s qualities but with a more consistent backhand (similar to Richard Gasquet’s) and a heavier serve (similar to Marat Safin’s), who could beat any opponent on any surface with relative ease, and you would have Don Budge—by all accounts one of the greatest players of all time, and arguably the very greatest.* Budge won six straight majors in 1937-38, completing the first Grand Slam in ’38, and he achieved a 92-match winning streak along the way. He won perhaps the greatest match of all time against Baron Gottfried Von Cramm in the ’37 Davis Cup semifinal, handing his opponent a loss that may have played a part in the German’s eventual imprisonment by the Third Reich; Von Cramm, it is reported, had nervously received a telephone call from Adolf Hitler before the match, the dictator wishing him good luck on the court. It can be argued, of course, that two of the top players in the world, Ellsworth Vines and Fred Perry, were not in amateur competition during Budge’s great two-year run, being engaged in the early professional tours. Budge, however, himself turned pro in 1939 and defeated both Vines and Perry in series of matches, leaving no doubts as to who was the greatest player of their time. Budge’s peak years were sadly cut short by World War II. Budge himself sustained a shoulder injury while in service that would hamper his tennis game for the rest of his career. Nevertheless, after the war Budge continued to compete at the highest levels, losing narrowly to Bobby Riggs in their ’46 tour. The aged Budge also reached the finals of the U.S. Pro Championships in ’49 and ’53, losing first to Riggs, then to Pancho Gonzales, who would go on to dominate the ‘50s. Budge’s predecessors and successors alike stood in awe of his unbreakable all-court game. Bill Tilden, tennis’s first great star of the 1920s, called him "the finest player 365 days a year that ever lived." Jack Kramer, the foremost player of the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, has routinely stated that Budge was the best player of all time (followed by Vines and Tilden). Budge’s backhand is universally admired, often regarded as the single greatest shot in the history of tennis, and Julius Heldman, in his piece Styles of the Greats (1971), argued that Budge’s forehand was nearly as good. The great sportswriter Will Grimsley wrote in Tennis: Its History, People and Events (also 1971) that Budge was “considered by many to be foremost among the all-time greats.” E. Digby Baltzell echoed this sentiment in Sporting Gentlemen: Men’s Tennis from the Age of Honor to the Cult of the Superstar (1994), where he wrote that Budge and Rod Laver, the only two male players to have won the Grand Slam, “have usually been rated at the top of any all-time World Champions list, Budge having a slight edge.” Panels of experts, when polled, have routinely listed Budge among the top five or six players in the history of tennis, though knowledge about him has declined in recent decades. For me, Budge remains among the top few players who ever lived. Along with Laurie Doherty, Tilden, Ken Rosewall, and Laver, he is one of tennis’s greatest all-court, all-surface champions, and like them he was nearly as good a doubles player as he was a singles player. In fact, to this day Budge holds one of the most impressive records in tennis history, having won the so-called “Wimbledon Slam” (consisting of the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles) in back-to-back years. He had every shot, and there was no part of his game that could be considered a weakness. He could pound the ball hard like Vines, and he could take the ball on the rise like Cochet or Perry. Even though he did not have the fast cannonball of Tilden, Vines, or Gonzales, his serve was considered one of the heaviest ever seen. Though Budge was most comfortable at the baseline, he was also adept at net, and he even had an excellent stroke volley—which many of today’s fans mistakenly believe was a recent invention! Budge was dominant both as an amateur and as a pro, and he accomplished what no man or woman had ever accomplished before: the Grand Slam, surely the greatest achievement in tennis. That he conquered such first-class rivals during his years at the top—Tilden, Vines, Perry, Von Cramm, and Riggs (before World War II)—solidifies his claim to tennis greatness. His heroic comeback victory in the epic 1937 Davis Cup match against Von Cramm lifts his name into the realm of sporting legend. I doubt we will ever see his like again. *I have provided my updated all-time rankings later in this thread.