Class of 1996
Contributions to Tennis
Off The Court
Known as the “Voice of Wimbledon” for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Dan Maskell was a celebrated figure in British tennis for more than six decades. Possessing a lifetime passion for the sport, he never missed a day of Wimbledon from 1929 through 1991 and had personally witnessed every final from 1924 forward. That 1924 women’s final was a historic encounter; Maskell watched Kitty McKane defeat Helen Wills, the only match Wills lost in nine visits at Wimbledon.
Maskell served as a BBC television commentator covering the Wimbledon Championships from 1951 to 1991, and was known for his insightful and thoughtful commentary delivered in a gentle and endearing fashion. He became famous for his stock remarks, such as the exuberant “Oh, I say!” the descriptive “quite extraordinary”, and the energetic “dream of a backhand.” Those phrases became Maskell’s favorite sayings, emanating from a widely popular announcer who often said he viewed tennis from “the best seat in the house.” Maskell, who used poignant pauses of silence during his broadcast, had a basic rule: “A second's silence is worth a minute's talk.”
Maskell began his tennis career in 1923 at the age of 14 as a full time ball boy at London’s Queen’s Club, where he remained as a coach until 1929. Maskell became the first teaching pro at the All England Club at Wimbledon (serving 1929-1955) and in 1933 he was asked to coach the British Davis Cup team — one of the first pros to ever do so — and helped guide the team to its first Davis Cup success since 1912 with victories from 1933-1936. In 1982, he was conferred a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to tennis by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Maskell never had an opportunity to play competitive tennis as an amateur.
In 1953, Maskell became the first professional to become an honorary member of the All England Club. In 1955, he was named the Lawn Tennis Association’s Training Manager, in charge of training coaches and promoting the game nationwide. From that point until his retirement in 1973, he devoted himself to transforming the coaching and development work of the Lawn Tennis Association.
Maskell personally coached Prince Charles, Prince Andrew, Princess Anne, and Princess Alexandra. His last announcing assignment before retiring was the 1991 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Men's Singles final featuring Michael Stich and Boris Becker. Maskell was the BBC commentator when tennis resumed as an Olympic sport in Seoul in 1988 after being dropped as a competition sport after the 1924 Games.
Maskell wrote his autobiography, From Where I Sit, in 1988.