Class of 1997
World No. 2 (1964)
Grand Slam Results
13-time major champion, 14-time finalist
Member of the Australian Federation Cup Team 1963-1965, 1967
Member of the Australian Championship Federation Cup Team 1964-1965
Captain of the Australian Fed Cup Team 1994-2001
Overall Record: 13-6
Singles Record: 7-3
Doubles Record: 6-3
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, if you were a tennis player travelling the amateur and then professional circuit, chances you’d not only run into an Australian player, but needed to defeat an Australian player, to have any shot at winning a championship. During this time, Aussie Lesley Turner Bowrey was an ever-present force on tour, rising to No. 2 in the world in 1964 and making her mark as a habitual finalist and champion at all four majors.
Bowrey was a diminutive, yet fit and determined 5-foot-4 baseliner who made life painstakingly difficult for her opponents – it was the Aussie Way. She was a baseliner extraordinaire who hit her groundstrokes with consistent power, precision, and pace. Observers say she struck the ball as “cleanly” as any player of her generation, and her results confirmed those accounts. From 1962 to 1978, she played in 27 major finals, winning seven women’s doubles, four mixed doubles and two major singles titles. In the years spanning 1961 to 1967, Bowrey won five of seven women’s doubles opportunities and four of nine chances in mixed play. She captured at least one title at each of the four major events, winning the Australian and French Championships a combined nine times in both categories.
She won her seven major doubles titles with three different partners, four with Margaret Court. That potent combination won the 1964 French and Wimbledon titles and the 1965 Australian and French Championships. Only the 1965 Australian over Billie Jean King (then Moffitt) and Aussie Robyn Ebbern, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 went the distance, the others were straight set triumphs. Bowrey’s first major championship was earned with American Darlene Hard at the U.S. Nationals in 1961. The 1964 tour season was her best, as Bowrey challenged to win a calendar-year doubles Grand Slam. At the Australian, she and countrywoman Judy Tegart dispensed Ebbern and Court (then Smith), 6-4, 6-4, then Smith joined Bowrey to win the French over Norma Baylon and Helga Schultze, 6-3, 6-1, and Wimbledon over Americans Moffitt and Karen Susman, 7-5, 6-2. The U.S. Nationals provided the last hurdle for Bowrey & Court. It was a steep leap, though, as Moffitt and Susman prevailed in three sets, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.
In mixed doubles competition, fellow Aussie Fred Stolle teamed with Bowrey to win Wimbledon in 1961 and 1964, and the Australian in 1962. She paired with Owen Davidson to add to her Australian doubles collection, winning the 1967 title.
Bowrey was a finalist in six major singles tournaments. Both championships were earned on the red clay at Roland Garros where she could dictate pace and rely on her solid groundstrokes. In what may be remembered as her most impressive victory, in 1965 Bowrey pulled out a premium upset when she defeated both top seeds – No. 2 Maria Bueno, 2-6, 6-4, 8-6, and No. 1 Court, 6-3, 6-4 – to win. Bowrey was a finalist at the 1962 and 1967 French, and twice at the Australian Championships. She faced Court in the 1964 finals and fell, 6-3, 6-2. Her last bonafide chance came in 1967, but Nancy Richey had too much game that afternoon, winning 6-1, 6-4.
During this era, the Italian Open was highly regarded, almost like an extension of the major events, and Bowrey performed admirably, winning the 1967 title against Bueno and the 1968 championship over Court. She had been a finalist there in 1961, 1963 and 1964. She also won the 1967 Italian doubles title with a new partner, Bill Bowrey. The two defeated Françoise Dürr and Frew McMillan and a year later were married.
Bowrey had a successful three-year string with the Australian Fed Cup team in the inaugural years of the matches, winning championships in 1964 and 1965. She later captained the team from 1994-2001. For her longevity as a player and national team member, Bowrey was appointed as a member of the Order of Australia in 1999, recognizing her service to Aussie tennis. She was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1985 and earned the USTA’s 1997 Sarah Palfrey Danzig Award, presented during the US Open, for character, sportsmanship and contribution to the growth of tennis.
Australian Championships: F 1964, 1967
French Championships: W 1963, 1965
Wimbledon: SF 1964
U.S. Nationals: SF 1967
Australian Championships/Open: W 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1976
French Championships: W 1964, 1965
Wimbledon: W 1964
U.S. Nationals: W 1961
Australian Championships: W 1962, 1967
French Championships: F 1962, 1963, 1964
Wimbledon: W 1961, 1964
U.S. Nationals: F 1962