Class of 1964
World No. 5 (1938)
Grand Slam Results
1931 uncontested Wimbledon champion, and 3-time major finalist
Member of the U.S. Davis Cup Team 1931 and 1934
Overall Record: 8-6
Singles Record: 5-6
Doubles Record: 3-0
Sidney Wood proved that youth could be served, even on tennis grandest courts. As a 15-year-old in 1927, he was the youngest Wimbledon entrant in gentlemen’s singles and doubles history, getting a tennis education by losing to No. 1 seeded Frenchman René Lacoste, 6-1, 6-3, 6-1 in the first round. Just four years later, however, Wood became the youngest male champion in history until 17-year-old Boris Becker snatched that distinction away in 1985.
In Ripley’s “Believe It Or Not” fashion, Wood never actually showed up for his 1931 Wimbledon finale. He was awarded the title when fellow American and doubles partner Frank Shields withdrew due to an ankle injury sustained in his semifinal victory over No.1 seed Jean Borotra of France, making the No. 7 seeded Wood the only player in Wimbledon history to win by default. Not lost in Wood’s only major title victory was his impressive 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 semifinal ousting of homegrown future champion No. 5 Fred Perry. In Wood’s New York Times obituary, it was reported that he refused to keep the Renshaw Cup as the Wimbledon champion until he proved he was a better grass court player than Shields. According to reports, he gave the cup for safe keeping to Maud Barger-Wallach, the women's singles champion at the 1908 U.S. Nationals. When Wood defeated Shields in the 1934 Queen's Cup championship final in London, he sought to get the cup back from Barger-Wallach. It took six months for that to happen, Wood told The Observer of London, because "she liked me, but she liked Frank more." Wood later authored The Wimbledon Final That Never Was, where he chronicled the entire bizarre match that was never played.
Wood, who suffered from tuberculosis as a child, was a U.S. National Men’s Singles Championship finalist in 1935, losing in three hard-fought sets to Wilmer Allison, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. He had one final bid for a U.S. title, but fell in the 1942 doubles final with partner Ted Schroeder to Gardnar Mullloy and Bill Talbert. Teaming with the immortal Helen Wills Moody, Wood was a French National Mixed Doubles finalist in 1932. From 1930-45, Wood maintained a U.S. Top 10 ranking and was a member of the U.S. Davis Cup Team in 1931 and 1934. He played in 26 U.S. Singles Championship events, a remarkable feat that ranks second all-time behind the 28 played by Vic Seixas.
Following his playing days, Wood became an entrepreneur, credited with inventing, designing and patenting Supreme Court, a synthetic playing surface used for indoor courts.
Wimbledon: W 1931
U.S. Nationals: F 1935
Wimbledon: SF 1931
U.S. Nationals: F 1942
French Championships: F 1932