Class of 1972
World No. 6 (1947)
U.S. No. 1 (1952)
Grand Slam Results
5-time major champion, 12-time finalist
Member of the U.S. Davis Cup Team 1946, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1957
Member of the 1946, 1948, and 1949 U.S. Championship Davis Cup Teams
Overall record: 11-3
Singles record: 3-0
Doubles record: 8-3
Gardnar Mulloy was a tremendous all-around athlete. As an undergraduate at the University of Miami, he played both football and competed in boxing before starting his collegiate tennis career. At one time, he was ranked sixth in Florida in 3-meter diving. It’s no surprise that once Mulloy dedicated himself to tennis full-time, he would become one of the game’s greatest – and longest playing – ambassadors. He broke into the Top 10 among American players at age 26 in 1939 and was playing on the senior circuit into his nineties.
In the 1940s, the doubles tandem of Mulloy and Bill Talbert were household names, though you wouldn’t necessarily want to invite them over for a friendly game. The duo won the 1942, 1945, 1946, and 1948 U.S. National Men’s Doubles Championships, and appeared in the finals on two other occasions (1950, 1953). The six finals appearances by that splendid duo are one short of Fred Alexander and Harold Hackett’s U.S. team record. The 1946 final was particularly riveting. Playing as Lt. Mulloy in 1945 (he had just finished his 1943-44 Naval service), he and Talbert needed 70 games to defeat the American team of Robert Falkenburg and Jack Tuero, 12-10, 8-10, 12-10, 6-2. Mulloy was the ideal doubles partner: His net play was crisp and exact, and his overhead smashes ended points with a resounding thud.
Mulloy won a total of five major doubles titles, the last coming in 1957 at the Wimbledon Championships with Budge Patty, when at age 43 he became the oldest player ever to win that title. The Mulloy-Patty duo entered the championships unseeded and with an 8-10, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over the youthful tandem of 22-year-old Lew Hoad and 23-year-old Neale Fraser. Mulloy and partner Dick Savitt played in the 1951 and 1952 French Nationals finals. In mixed doubles competition, Mulloy and Shirley Fry made it to the final of the 1955 U.S. Championship, but were defeated by Doris Hart and Vic Seixas (7-5, 5-7, 6-2). He teamed with Althea Gibson in 1956 to compete for the Wimbledon Mixed Doubles title, but fell to Shirley Fry and Seixas in the final (2-6, 6-2, 7-5).
In 1952, Mulloy made his only major singles finals appearance, playing for the U.S. title. At age 38, he was one of the oldest finalists in history, losing 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 to 24-year-old Frank Sedgman. Lost in that fantastic run to the finals was a huge quarterfinal comeback victory over Ken Rosewall, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5. He was a semifinalist at two other majors – the Australian Nationals in 1947 and Wimbledon in 1948. Mulloy was a highly proficient singles player despite being known for his doubles prowess, ranking in the World Top 10 four times, and was ranked in the U.S. Top 10 fourteen times for singles between 1939 and 1954, reaching No. 1 in 1952.
Mulloy was a dedicated Davis Cup Team member, playing for the United States in 1946, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, and 1957. He was part of championship teams in 1946, 1948, and 1949, earning the clinching point with Talbert in the 1948 victory over Australia at Forest Hills. His last appearance for the U.S. came in 1957, as a 43-year-old who was playing like a 23-year-old.
Mulloy was an advocate for Senior Tennis, playing on the senior circuit into his 90s. He developed the Mulloy Cup for international competition between male tennis players 80 years of age and over. In 1990, Mulloy wrote his autobiography, The Will To Win.
Australian Championships: SF 1947
French Championships: QF 1952, 1953, 1954
Wimbledon: SF 1948
U.S. Nationals: F 1952
Australian Championships: QF 1947
French Championships: F 1951, 1952
Wimbledon: W 1957
U.S. Nationals: W 1942, 1945, 1946, 1948
Wimbledon: F 1956
U.S. Nationals: F 1955