Thelma Coyne Long

Thelma Coyne Long

Class of 2013

Master Player

Career Achievements

Top Ranking     
World No. 7 (1952)

Grand Slam Results
19-time major champion, 12-time finalist

Citizenship: AUS Born: October 14, 1918 in Sydney, Australia Died: April 14, 2015 Played: Right-handed

The history of Australian tennis couldn’t be written without Thelma Coyne Long. Eighteen of her 19 major titles were accomplished on native soil, and she was an equal opportunity event champion: Her trophy case is adorned by singles, doubles, and mixed doubles hardware.

Coyne’s two decade tennis domination at the Australian Championships lasted from 1936 to 1958, and likely seemed much longer to her opponents. Seventeen of her titles came in doubles competition, with a record 12 earned in women’s doubles. Ten of those victories came when teaming with Nancye Wynne Bolton, and together the pair holds the record for most Australian doubles titles by a team.

In total, Coyne Long won two singles titles, 12 doubles titles, and four mixed doubles titles at the Australian Championships. In 1952, she completed a rare Australian triple, winning the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles titles that year. She is the oldest Australian women’s singles champion in history, having won the 1954 event aged 35 years and eight months, and the oldest Australian Championship women’s doubles champion, claiming the 1958 title aged 39 years and 7 months. She is also the only player (man or woman) to have won 12 Australian doubles titles.

Coyne won nine Australian Doubles Championships before winning in singles. After reaching the singles finals in 1940 and 1951, she broke through in 1952 with a resounding 6-2, 6-3 victory over Helen Angwin. Coyne proceeded to reach the finals three straight years (1954, 1955, 1956), registering her second championship in 1954 over Jenny Staley Hoad, 6-3, 6-4. Her longevity while maintaining a high-level of play was impressive. Coyne reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Nationals singles quarterfinals in 1952. In 1938 she advanced just two rounds into the French Championships, but made the quarterfinals in 1951.

Coyne Long’s lone major title away from her home country was won at the French Championships in mixed doubles with Luis Ayala in 1956. She made the finals of the 1952 Wimbledon mixed doubles with Rickey Morea of Argentina, as well as the finals of the 1952 U.S. Nationals with countryman Lew Hoad. In both cases, Long and her teammate lost to American Doris Hart and Australian Frank Sedgman.

In May 1941, during World War II, Coyne Long joined the Red Cross as a transport driver, and in 1942, she joined the Australian Women's Army Service. Had the war not intervened, and had so many potentially great years not been taken away from her, it’s likely that Long’s championship record would have included more titles outside of Australia.

Upon her election into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Coyne told the Daily Telegraph in March 2013, “I’m very proud to receive the award because it was a bit tougher to be a good tennis player back then.”

Grand Slam

Grand Slam Best Results

Titles

2 Singles | 12 Doubles | 5 Mixed Doubles

Singles
Australian Championships: W 1952, 1954
French Championships: QF 1951
Wimbledon: QF 1952
U.S. Nationals: QF 1952

Doubles
Australian Championships: W 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1956, 1958
French Championships: F 1958
Wimbledon: F 1957
U.S. Nationals: SF 1958

Mixed Doubles
Australian Championships: W 1951, 1952, 1954, 1955
French Championships: W 1956
Wimbledon: F 1952
U.S. Nationals: F 1952