Derek Hardwick

Derek Hardwick

Class of 2010

Contributor

Career Achievements

Contributions to Tennis

  • Among the visionaries to help start the Open Era in 1968
  • Chairman, Men's International Professional Tennis Council, 1974-1977
  • President, International Tennis Federation, 1975-1977
Citizenship: GBR Born: January 30, 1921 in London, England Died: May 28, 1987

It takes perseverance, fortitude, vision, and conviction to create change, and Derek Hardwick had all of those traits. Hardwick was instrumental – and a true champion – in perhaps the greatest modification to the game in history: The creation of Open Tennis in 1968. Few sports have made such a sweeping deviation from established tradition, and Hardwick was a leading advocate.

Hardwick was amongst a group of three visionaries, including fellow Englishman Herman David and American Bob Kelleher, all Hall of Famers, who fought the International Tennis Federation to introduce Open Tennis, involving both amateurs and professionals. The staid and provincial tennis hierarchy in Europe and the United States had long abhorred the notion of Open Tennis, and Hardwick lobbied diligently for this major reform.

Hardwick, a former British doubles champion who played in the 1946 Wimbledon mixed doubles with Doris Hart, became Chairman of the British Lawn Tennis Association in 1968. In that powerful position, he took a bold stand in voting affirmatively to make Wimbledon, and all other British tournaments, "Open." This decision smacked against the traditional values held firm by the ILTF, but Hardwick and Kelleher aligned themselves in such staunch agreement that it ultimately forced the ILTF to change its policies on "amateur" and "professional," a global impact on tennis. In an emergency meeting held in Paris in 1968, the ILTF finally relented. The first open tournament – the British Hard Court Championships – was played at Hardwick's home club, the West Hampshire Club in Bournemouth, in 1968. Thus, the Open Era had begun.

Hardwick also served tennis as chairman of the Men's International Professional Tennis Council (1974-1977), the governing body of men's tennis prior to the advent of the ATP Tour. He was also the president of the International Tennis Federation (1975-1977).