Class of 1985
Contributions to Tennis
Colleagues who shared office space at The Guardian with David Gray said he would attack his typewriter as he would a gourmet meal, then after a few lines would rip out the paper and hurl it to the floor. They claimed this ritual was repeated several times and usually ended with Gray scavenging around before resurrecting one of the discarded introductions. The result was one of the day's most considered pieces.
From 1956 to 1976, Gray was the witty and verbose tennis writer for England’s Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper. He was opinionated and authoritative, admonishing phony amateurism. He was a proponent of open tennis and perhaps best known as the ring leader of a trio of talented British tennis writers, including Rex Bellamy and Henry Raven. A snippet of his prose following the Arthur Ashe-Jimmy Connors 1975 Wimbledon Gentlemen Singles championship: “He (Ashe) approached it almost as though he was going to play Connors at chess with a strategy deeply considered and carefully rehearsed. The . . . strategy was plain: Nothing to hit; variations of speed; a great deal of awkward slice; lobs in plenty; fine smashes to counter Connors’ lobs; volleying, . . . The lawn tennis thinker was in total intellectual control. Hamlet has spotted Laertes, was thrusting the poisoned cup down the king’s throat and winning envenomed points everywhere. . . . The odds-on favorite was lobbed, dinked, teased, passed, out-rallied, and frustrated.”
Gray, who graduated from Birmingham University, had several journalistic stops before joining The Guardian. He wrote for the Wolverhampton Express and Star, the Northern Daily Telegraph and the News Chronicle. While he was tennis savvy, Gray adeptly reported on politics and was a theater critic before turning to tennis. A collection of his writings, Shades of Gray, was released posthumously in 1988.
Gray departed The Guardian in 1976 to become an official with the International Tennis Federation, serving as the ITF’s diplomatic secretary until his death in 1983. He was also secretary of the Men’s International Professional Tennis Council.
The Women’s Tennis Association established the David Gray Service Award in honor of Gray’s contributions to the sport.