Class of 2003
World No.3 (1967)
Grand Slam Results
12-time major champion, 15-time finalist
Open Era Titles
Member of the French Federation Cup Team 1963-1967, 1970, 1972, 1977-1979
French Fed Cup Team Captain 1993-1996
Overall record: 31-17
Singles record: 16-8
Doubles record: 15-9
The three most recent native champions to prevail on the clay at Roland Garros have been Mary Pierce (2000), Yannick Noah (1983), and Françoise Dürr (1967).
Born on Christmas Day, Dürr’s strokes were unorthodox – she swiped the ball on her backhand, like she had a fly swatter in her hand, and her serving motion was a collection of several movements (raise the racquet, tuck it behind the head, push it forward) instead of one continuous motion. Her serve was so slow it likely wouldn’t have registered a radar device. She held her racquet with a frying pan grip and placed her index finger down the edge of the racquet handle. Dürr used her unique style to drive her opponents into frustration, leading to errors and subsequent losses. She hit soft and hard balls, looping shots, and drives down the alley. She possessed a fantastic lob, which was used more offensively to set up her next shot than a defensive maneuver. Dürr got low to the ground, almost in a sitting or kneeling position, and then could spring to life, scattering her body all over the court. She hustled on every ball, had shrewd gamesmanship, and an undeniable competitive spirit.
“My big strength was my physical conditioning and tenacity,” Dürr often explained, “and with my funny grip a lot of people could not read me well.”
One of those “people” was Aussie Lesley Turner Bowrey, who lost to Dürr in the 1967 French Championships, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. To reach the finals, Dürr had to defeat the supremely talented Maria Bueno of Brazil in the quarterfinals (5-7, 6-1, 6-4) and upend Aussie Kerry Melville in the semifinals, 8-6, 6-3. The victory catapulted the unlikely groundstroker to No. 3 in the world. Dürr made concerted efforts on winning two other French titles, but she fell in the 1972 and 1973 semifinals to Evonne Goolagong Cawley (9-7, 6-4) and Chris Evert (6-1, 6-0) respectively. Dürr’s only other meaningful forays into winning another major singles title came in semifinalist appearances at the 1970 Wimbledon Championships – falling to Billie Jean King (6-3, 7-5) – and at the 1967 U.S. Nationals. She lost to King again (6-2, 6-4). Dürr’s game was strong enough to earn her 26 singles titles, including the German Open title in the same year as her Paris heroics. Between 1965 and 1976, she was ranked among the top ten in the world nine times.
Doubles on the other hand, was a Dürr specialty; she played in 26 major doubles finals, 18 in women’s competition and eight in mixed play. Seven times Dürr won a women’s title; four in mixed doubles. She captured six straight French titles (1967-71) in women’s play, sporting a 43-12 all-time record. She added three more in mixed doubles (1968, 1971, 1973), where she was equally proficient with a 40-10 all-time mark. She won three French titles each with fellow countrywoman Gail Chanfreau (1967, 1970, 1971) and two with Brit Ann Haydon Jones (1968, 1969). The 1969 US Open was earned with American Darlene Hard and a second was won with Betty Stöve in 1972. Those who tuned into tennis on television during the mid-1970s often saw Dürr and Stöve play together – the duo complete complimenting one another with finesse (Dürr) and power (Stöve). The pair played in five major finals together – finalists four of five times – and were the Women’s Tennis Association year end champions in 1979. Dürr reached the Wimbledon Ladies’ Doubles Final six times, but could never get over the hump to win the tournament.
Dürr was 4-4 in mixed doubles major finals, winning all but one of her titles with countryman Jean-Claude Barclay. That pair captured the French in 1968, 1971, and 1973 – all in easy, straight set affairs. In 1976 Dürr won Wimbledon with Tony Roche.
Dürr enjoyed a fruitful run as a member of the French Fed Cup Team, playing on and off from 1963-67, 1970, 1972, 1977-79. She was one of the first women to sign a professional contract, and played on the Virginia Slims Tour.
Post playing days, she was named the first Technical Director of Women’s Tennis for the French Tennis Federation in 1993, retiring in 2002.
Australian Championships: QF 1965, 1967
French Championships: W 1967
Wimbledon: SF 1970
U.S. Nationals: SF 1967
Australian Open: SF 1969
French Championships/Open: W 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971
Wimbledon: F 1965, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1975
US Open: W 1969, 1972
Australian Championships: SF 1967
French Open: W 1968, 1971, 1973
Wimbledon: W 1976
US Open: F 1969