Class of 1964
World No. 5 (1930)
Grand Slam Results
4-time major finalist
U.S. Davis Cup Team member 1931,1932, 1934
Captain of the 1951 U.S. Davis Cup Team
Overall record: 19-6
Singles record: 16-6
Doubles record: 3-0
The 6-foot-3 Francis Xavier Alexander Shields, Sr. had debonair good looks that earned him small Hollywood movie roles. His tennis-playing story reads like a suspense thriller. In 1931, Shields was seeded No. 3 at Wimbledon. He sailed through the first four rounds, dropping only one set. In the quarterfinals, he narrowly escaped England’s favorite son Bunny Austin. Down 2-1 in sets, Shields needed every fiber in his body to eke out a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 7-5, 6-1 victory in a rough-and-tumble five-setter. In the semifinals, Shields upset No. 1 seed Jean Borotra of France, no easy feat considering his previous match, in a grueling four-set affair, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4. In the process of stunning Borotra, Shields twisted his knee and was forced to default the championship to his friend, high school chum, roommate, and Davis Cup doubles partner Sidney Wood. It was rumored that the United States Lawn Tennis Association wanted a healthy Shields available for an important Davis Cup showdown with Great Britain two weeks later and “ordered” him to withdraw. The outcome made Shields a significant historical footnote: He enabled Wood to become the first and only player to win a major singles title without ever stepping onto the finals court. Wood later authored The Wimbledon Final That Never Was, where he chronicled the entire scenario.
Shields, a self-taught player who had a booming first serve, was ranked in the U.S. Top 10 eight times from 1928 to 1945, rising to No. 2 in 1930 and No. 1 in 1933. He appeared in the finals of three U.S. National Championship events but was snake bitten and unable to seize one title. He lost the 1930 singles final to John Doeg, 16-14 in the fourth set. He was unsuccessful in a doubles bid with Frank Parker in 1933 and a mixed doubles final with Marjorie Morrill in 1930. Shields competed successfully for the U.S. Davis Cup Team in 1931, 1932 and 1934, compiling an impressive 19-6 overall record, with 16 of those victories coming in singles competition. He captained the finalist-United States Davis Cup team in 1951. His 23 U.S. Singles Championship tournaments entered is tied for third best all-time.
From 1935 to 1938, Shields turned his attention to acting and had parts in seven films. His big screen lineage extended to his movie and television actress granddaughter Brooke Shields.
French Championships: QF (1933)
Wimbledon: F (1931)
U.S. Nationals: F (1930)
Wimbledon: SF (1931)
U.S. Nationals: F (1933)
U.S. Nationals: F (1930)