Class of 1993
World No. 1 (1961)
Grand Slam Results
4-time major champion, and 4-time finalist
Captain of the British Federation Cup Team 1967-1970
Member of the British Wightman Cup Team 1953, 1955-1956, 1959-1961
Member of the winning Wightman Cup Team, 1960
Angela Mortimer Barrett’s partial deafness didn’t hinder, but rather enhanced, her performance while playing the game of tennis. The majority of players would find Mortimer’s handicap difficult to overcome; the sound related to the ball coming off the strings aids player with pace, power, touch and placement, but Mortimer’s quiet solitude actually led her to the Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles Championship in 1961.
“I could hear the applause of the crowd, but not much else,” Mortimer said. “I think it helped me concentrate, shutting out distractions. When I hear players say they need to hear the ball, I smile. I couldn’t.”
Wrapped in her own tennis cocoon at Wimbledon in 1961, the 29-year-old Mortimer relied on her fluid all-around game to comeback against fellow Brit Christine Truman Janes 4–6, 6–4, 7–5. It was her last major title and perhaps her most important, but not her first. Six years earlier she won the 1955 French Championships and in 1958 captured the Australian Championships.
When Mortimer met Janes on Centre Court, it was the first all-English final in 47 years. Mortimer was the No. 7 seed and sent rippling shock waves through the tournament proceedings when she rolled through the field and defeated No. 1 seed South African Sandra Reynolds, 11-9, 6-3, in the semifinals. Janes had upset No. 2 Margaret Court, 3-6, 6-3, 9-7, in the quarterfinals, making for a riveting final. Mortimer did not let this rare opportunity slip away, grinding out a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 victory.
Mortimer, who started playing tennis at age 15, was a late bloomer, but inherently talented and skilled enough that she was ready to start playing in the majors at age 19. She won the French Championships in just her second appearance, a gut-check 2-6, 7-5, 10-8 victory over American Dorothy Head Knode. She returned to the French final the following year, trying to match wits and strokes against the legendary Althea Gibson, and after getting blanked 6-0 in the first set, fought like mad in the second, falling valiantly 12-10. It took Mortimer eight years to travel to Melbourne for the Australian and she only made the trip once in her career. It worked out well for her though, and she earned a straight set 6-3, 6-4 thrashing of fellow Brit Lorraine Coghlan in the finals. Riding the crest of that victory, Mortimer advanced to the 1958 Wimbledon final, but Gibson was in the midst of winning five major titles in three years, and won her second straight Ladies’ Singles Championship, 8-6, 6-2. Her forays to the U.S. Nationals were infrequent, her best finish being the 1961 semifinals. She advanced to the 1958 Australian Mixed Doubles Championship alongside Australian Peter Newman.
Mortimer was ranked in the World Top 10 nine times between 1953 and 1962, reaching the top position in 1961. She played Wightman Cup as a member of the British team six times, helping Great Britain defeat the United States in 1960. Mortimer returned to captain the team from 1964-70 and served as captain of the British Fed Cup Squad 1967-1970. In 1962, she released her autobiography, My Waiting Game.
With her marriage to esteemed BBC commentator and former British Davis Cup player John Barrett, a 2014 Hall of Fame inductee, the couple represents one of the two married duos in the Hall of Fame alongside Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi.
Australian Championships: W 1958
French Championships: W 1955
Wimbledon: W 1961
U.S. Nationals: SF 1961
Australian Championships: F 1958
French Championships: SF 1955
Wimbledon: W 1955
U.S. Nationals: SF 1952, 1955, 1959
Australian Championships: F 1958
Wimbledon: QF 1966
U.S. Nationals: SF 1953