Class of 1977
World No. 1 (1950)
Grand Slam Results
4-time major champion, 2-time finalist
Budge played for the U.S. Davis Cup team in 1951
Overall Record: 2-0
Singles Record: 1-0
Doubles Record: 1-0
Renowned tennis author and television commentator John Barrett called John Edward Patty “the most suave of champions.”
Known by his nickname “Budge,” dubbed by his brother to describe his laziness, “failure to budge,” Patty was also described as “elegant” and “debonair” for his wardrobe. He wore ties and tailored jackets, and had Hollywood leading-man good looks. With a racquet in hand, Patty had a smooth ground stroking, all-court game. And in 1950, when the Broadway classic Guys and Dolls debuted on Broadway – a play that was perfectly “fitted” for Patty – he won the singles championship at both the French Nationals and Wimbledon. Only two other American male players – Don Budge in 1938 and Tony Trabert in 1955 – earned that double victory.
Those victories earned Patty the No. 1 world ranking. Big stuff for a small town guy from Fort Smith, Arkansas who moved to California and attended Los Angeles High School.
In 1949, Patty made a concerted run at the French title, falling in the singles final to compatriot Frank Parker, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1, 6-4. He had a nifty 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Pancho Gonzales in the semifinals, proving that his run to the 1949 championship match and ensuing title in 1950 weren’t a product of luck, but talent. The 1950 French final against Jaroslav Drobný was the first of two mammoth matches he would play against the Czechoslovakian during his career, the latter coming in the 1953 Wimbledon third round.
In similar fashion to the French, Patty was a contender at Wimbledon before finally winning a championship. In 1947 he bounced No. 2 seed John Bromwich of Australia in the fourth round in what would become the norm for Patty – five arduous see-saw sets – 6-4, 0-6, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, before being halted by American Thomas Brown in the semifinals, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. By his own admission, 1950 was Patty’s best year playing tennis, and his 6-1, 8-10, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Aussie Frank Sedgman in the Wimbledon Gentlemen Singles final gave full credence to his theory. Seeded No. 5 Patty defeated Americans Bill Talbert (3-6, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3) and Vic Seixas (6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5) to reach the championship match.
Fast-forwarding to the 1953 Wimbledon Championships, Patty and Drobný squared off in an epic third round match. He held six match points, but couldn’t put the Czech away, falling in a 93-game, 4 hour, 20 minute classic, 8-6, 16-18, 3-6, 8-6, 12-10. The match started at 5 pm and lasted until 9:20 pm. “I could hardly see a thing and I was so tired I barely knew where I was,” Patty told The Daily Telegraph in 2000. At the time, it was the record for the longest continuous tennis match in history. That mark has been topped two dozen times since.
Wimbledon was always a favored event for Patty, who said “it had the best grass courts in the world.” He lost to Trabert in the 1955 semifinals (8-6, 6-2, 6-2). In 1957, Patty was 33-years-old and he and 43-year-old Gardnar Mulloy became the oldest team of the post-World War I era to win at the All England Club, defeating the top-seeded duo of Lew Hoad, age 22, and Neale Fraser age 23, 8-10, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. A second French title was earned when Patty teamed with Pauline Betz to win the mixed doubles crown over Americans Dorothy "Dodo" Bundy and Tom Brown, 7-5, 9-7. He and Mulloy advanced to the 1957 U.S. National Men’s Doubles Championship, falling to Aussies Fraser and Ashley Cooper in four sets. He played sparingly at the U.S. Championship, advancing to the 1951 and 1953 quarterfinals – losing to Dick Savitt (6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4), and Trabert (6-4, 6-4, 6-2) respectively.
Patty enjoyed a 15-year career, winning 46 singles titles, including the 1953 German International Championship over Fausto Gardini (6-3, 6-2, 6-3) and the 1954 Italian Championship over Jorge Morea, 11-9, 6-4, 6-4. He was ranked in the world Top 10 seven times from 1947 to 1957.
French Championships: W 1950
Wimbledon: W 1950
U.S. Nationals: QF 1951, 1953, 1957
French Championships: SF 1946, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955
Wimbledon: W 1957
U.S. Nationals: F 1957
French Championships: W 1946
Wimbledon: SF 1946