Class of 1956
World No. 4 (1906)
Grand Slam Results
One-time champion, 3-time finalist
Member of the U.S. Davis Cup Team 1905, 1909
Overall Record: 4-1
Singles Record: 4-1
Doubles Record: 0-0
In an era dominated by skilled Harvard University tennis players, William Clothier added to the mastery of the men from Cambridge. He captured both the singles and doubles Intercollegiate titles in 1902. In 1906 he convincingly won the coveted U.S. National Men’s Singles title, 6-3, 6-0, 6-4 over Beals Wright. It was redemption for the hard-charging Clothier who lost the 1904 final to Holcombe Ward. To reach the 1906 final against Wright, Clothier needed to make a miraculous comeback in the quarterfinals, recovering from 2-5, 0-40 in the fifth set to stun Fred Alexander, 8-6, 6-2, 4-6, 1-6, 7-5.
A determined Clothier reached the 1909 final as well, but lost an excruciating five-setter, this time to William Larned, who was in the midst of winning seven straight U.S. championships. In 1912, he and Eleonora Sears advanced to the U.S. National Mixed Doubles final, losing 11-9 in the third set. Clothier competed on the United States Davis Cup team reaching the finals both times, but the U.S. ultimately fell to the British Isles in 1905 and Australasia in 1909.
Writing in the book On Lawn Tennis (1903), multiple Wimbledon champions Reginald and Laurie Doherty described Clothier’s playing style: “Clothier has copied Whitman, but is not so good. His twist service is much the same as Whitman's, and he always follows it up to the net, He volleys well, and is especially severe [on] overheads. His volleying is considerably superior to his groundstrokes.”
Giving back to the game, Clothier holds the distinction of being the first President and second Chairman of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, positions he held at various times between 1954 and 1957.
The Clothier family had an impressive family tree; his son William II was an accomplished tennis player who won national singles championships and toured on grass court circuit from 1934 to 1938. Together the duo twice won a national father-son title.
U.S. Nationals: W 1906
Wimbledon: SF 1905
U.S. Nationals: F 1912