Originally Posted by Flash O'Groove
Why Tilden by the way?
Tilden was arguably the most dominant tennis player in history. He won over 160 tournaments in his career. He won I believe 10 classic majors and 14 total majors, 15 if you included the World Hard Court on clay which was the most important clay court tournament in the world since the French was not open to anyone but French players. When he was dominant during his best years he won approximately 98% of his matches over a five year period. At that point he very well could have won not just one Grand Slam but several.
Travel in those days was very tough. They had to travel by boat to the other countries to play majors like Wimbledon. Tilden won Wimbledon of course when he traveled there but when you travel there it would take many weeks and the player would get out of shape besides adjusting to the time lag.
I believe Tilden at one point won eight straight majors that he entered. The man played until his fifties and even played Pancho Gonzalez in a match! He won more than half the tournaments he played in for his CAREER!
You add that he was a great student of the game and was always trying to improve. Tilden late in his career toured with Fred Perry who was known for his legendary continental forehand which some have called the greatest forehand ever. Tilden was a disciple of eastern grips. He asked to have a hitting session with Perry during one of the breaks in their tours and told Perry to hit a ball to him, short and wide to his forehand. Tilden got it and returned the ball easily with a perfect continental forehand like Perry. Perry was astonished. Tilden told Perry that he was studying Perry's style and thought the continental forehand was the only way to return that type of shot. He also said that unless he mastered that he wouldn't feel he was a complete player. That to me is very impressive. It shows Tilden's constant willingness to learn and improve his game. Tilden was in his fifties when this happened. I have no doubt that at 6"2", fast and powerful with a great serve that Tilden would have easily adapted to today's game. Perhaps he would have played with a two handed backhand. Perhaps he would have devised different techniques of playing.
The game we play today is due largely to the techniques that Tilden used and created.