Class of 1979
World No. 1 (1933)
Grand Slam Results
17-time major champion, 15-time finalist
Member of the Australian Davis Cup Team 1928, 1930, 1932-1937
Overall Record: 36-21
Singles Record: 23-16
Doubles Record: 13-5
He was known as “Gentleman Jack,” and on the court Jack Crawford did indeed present himself as the proper gentleman. He donned the era’s traditional white outfit – pressed pants and a long-sleeved flannel shirt – and he moved around the court with grace and precision. During competition, he played his grooved baseline game with a purpose. He played effortlessly, was technically fluent and his game was buoyed by accuracy, not power. Only 13 players in tennis history have completed a three-quarter slam in singles competition and Crawford was the first, in 1933. Only 15 players in tennis history have completed a three-quarter slam in doubles competition and Crawford was the 3rd to achieve that milestone in 1935.
The Australian-born Crawford virtually owned his native country’s major event. From 1931 to 1940, he won four singles titles and played for three others. Before he embarked on his pursuit of a calendar Grand Slam in 1933, Crawford had already won the 1931 and 1932 Australian Championships, furiously defeating Harry Hopman both times, 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 in 1931 and 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 in 1932.
Crawford was fearless during that magical 1933 season, starting off by defeating American upstart Keith Gledhill in 1933 Australian Championships, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2. He arrived on the red clay of Roland Garros and disposed of native son Henri Cochet with little resistance, 8-6, 6-1, 6-3. Neither the grass courts at the All England Club or American star Ellsworth Vines could derail Crawford at Wimbledon, but the final was a slugfest requiring a near-huge comeback in a hard-fought five-set victory, 4-6, 11-9, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
Just as the U.S. National Championships unfolded, Crawford was featured on the September 4, 1933 cover of Time Magazine. His last obstacle in obtaining one of the most difficult accomplishments in sports came at Forest Hills and in the person of Fred Perry. New York Times columnist John Kieran wrote, “If Crawford wins, that would be something like scoring a grand slam on the courts, doubled, and vulnerable.” Crawford dropped the first set 6-3, but dug into his reservoir of strength and ability to win the next two sets in dramatic fashion, 13-11, 6-4. But his fuel tank emptied. It was said that Crawford was an asthmatic who frequently took brandy mixed with sugar to help his breathing during matches, and on the muggy afternoon in Forest Hills he was said to have downed two or three doses of the concoction, though there are differing accounts of what Crawford actually drank. Whatever the reason, Perry took full advantage, winning the next two sets, 6-0, 6-1, denying Crawford his accolade. The first singles Grand Slam would have to wait for Donald Budge in 1938, but in some measure of consolation, Crawford rose to No. 1 in the world due to his tremendous 1933 campaign.
Crawford made another remarkable major run in 1934, advancing to the finals of the Australian, French, and Wimbledon Championships, but didn’t receive such gentlemanly treatment from Perry in Australia (a 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 loss) or at Wimbledon (a 6-3, 6-0, 7-5 loss) nor German Gottfried von Cramm in Paris, though Crawford had his chances. He didn’t figure into the U.S. Nationals, choosing to skip the event.
Crawford exacted some measure of revenge against Perry at the 1935 Australian, winning in four sets, but it could hardly replace the anguish in New York two years earlier. Historically, he was competing in his tenth straight major final, matching only by Big Bill Tilden and then joined by Roger Federer. He advanced to his last Australian finals in 1936 and 1940, felled each time by fellow Aussie Adrian Quist, but he had set a record by making seven finals appearances, equaled by Roy Emerson in 1967.
Crawford’s doubles prowess was significant. He won three majors in 1935 – the Australian, French, and Wimbledon – playing alongside compatriots Vivian McGrath (Australian) and Quist (French, Wimbledon). Crawford didn’t enter the U.S. National Championships, dousing a potential calendar year Grand Slam.
His legacy playing in Australia was considerable; he won four of his doubles titles there, and tacking on three more championships in mixed doubles. Those were won from 1931 to 1933 alongside his wife Marjorie Cox Crawford. Eleven of his 17 major titles were earned in Australia. He was a major event finalist 15 other times.
Crawford had an eight-year run playing on the Australian Davis Cup Team, a finalist in 1936. He was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 1997.
Australian Championships: W 1931, 1932, 1933, 1935
French Championships: W 1933
Wimbledon: W 1933
U.S. Nationals: F 1933
Australian Championships: W 1929, 1930, 1932, 1935
French Championships: W 1935
Wimbledon: W 1935
U.S. Nationals: F 1939
Australian Championships: W 1931, 1932, 1933
French Championships: W 1933
Wimbledon: W 1930
U.S. Nationals: SF 1933