Daphne Akhurst

Daphne Akhurst

Class of 2013

Master Player

Career Achievements

Top Ranking     
World No. 3 (1928)

Grand Slam Results
14-times a major champion, and three times a runner-up

Career Titles
14

Citizenship: AUS Born: April 22, 1903 in Ashfield, New South Wales, Australia Died: January 9, 1933

Daphne Akhurst was the first – and perhaps greatest – homegrown talent, who captured the 1925, 1926, 1928, 1929, and 1930 singles titles at the Australian Championships. She won nine championships in doubles – five in women’s play and four in mixed competition – and had an indelible impact on her nation.

Akhurst is fourth on the list of most women’s singles titles at the Australian Championships; behind Margaret Court with eleven titles, Serena Williams with seven titles, and Nancye Wynne Bolton with six titles.  She won the women's doubles title at the Australian Championships five times: in 1924 and 1925 with Sylvia Lance Harper, in 1928 with Esna Boyd Robertson, and in 1929 and 1931 with Louise Bickerton. She and Marjorie Cox were the runners-up in 1926. Akhurst won the mixed doubles title at the Australian Championships four times: in 1924 and 1925 with Jim Willard, in 1928 with Frenchman Jean Borotra, and in 1929 with Gar Moon. She and Willard were finalists in 1926.

An accomplished pianist whose talents on the keys rivaled those on the court, Akhurst was a self-taught tennis player. Akhurst won the New South Wales schoolgirls' singles championship four straight years (1917-20). Her first major victory in the County of Cumberland ladies' singles in 1923 was the precursor of a dominant run at the State and National levels.

In 1925 she won her first Australian title, coming back from a set down to defeat her Victorian rival, Esna Boyd, 1-6, 8-6, 6-4. She handled Esna in straight sets in 1925 and 1928. In her five title matches, the dominating Akhurst lost only three sets.

Akhurst seldom left her homeland to compete at the three other Grand Slam events. She reached the quarterfinals of the 1928 French Championships in singles, doubles, and mixed, and had a fantastic run at the 1928 Wimbledon Championships, nearly winning all three events. She advanced to the Ladies Singles semifinal as an unseeded player, bouncing the esteemed American Helen Hull Jacobs in the third round, 6-8, 6-1, 8-6.  She lost her bid for a coveted Wimbledon title, however, losing to Spain’s Lili de Alvarez, 6-3, 6-0. Partnering with her singles rival Esna Boyd, the duo advanced to the Ladies Doubles semifinal, bowing in three hard-fought sets to the German tandem of Eileen Bennett and Ermyntrude Harvey, 8-6, 3-6, 2-6.

She paired with Jack Crawford to reach the Mixed Doubles finals, bowing in a tight match to America’s Elizabeth Ryan paired with South African Patrick Spence, 7-5, 6-4.  Despite the loss, Akhurst and Crawford returned home as heroes.

Tragically, Akhurst passed away from an ectopic pregnancy at the young age of 33. As a fitting tribute, the women’s singles champion at the Australian Open is presented with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. She was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame on Australia Day, January 26, 2006.

Grand Slam

Grand Slam Best Results

Titles

5 singles | 5 doubles | 4 mixed doubles

Singles
Australian Championships: W 1925, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1930
French Championships: QF 1928
Wimbledon: SF 1928

Doubles
Australian Championships: W 1924, 1925, 1928, 1929, 1931
French Championships: QF 1928
Wimbledon: SF 1928

Mixed Doubles
Australian Championships: W 1924, 1925, 1928, 1929
French Championships: QF 1928
Wimbledon: F 1928