Class of 1963
World No. 4 (1932, 1935)
Grand Slam Results
6-time major champion, 8-time finalist
Member of the U.S. Davis Cup Team 1928-1933, 1935-1936
Overall Record: 32-12
Singles Record: 18-10
Doubles Record: 14-2
Hailing from Texas, a state rich in football tradition and one not known for producing champion tennis players, the sleek and slender 5-foot-11 Wilmer Lawson Allison made the Lone Star State proud, producing his own brand of “Don’t Mess With Texas” swagger. He had an explosive forehand volley and an attacking, aggressive style bolstered by a big serve and a mindset to end points quickly. Playing for the University of Texas, Allison won the 1927 Intercollegiate Singles Championship, paving the way for an exceptional career that was rooted in doubles excellence and sprinkled with several major accomplishments in singles. In doubles competition, Allison and longtime partner John Van Ryn could have easily been nicknamed “Double Trouble.” Both enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1963, the dynamic duo won the 1931 and 1935 U.S. National Doubles Championship titles and added a pair of Wimbledon crowns in 1929 and 1930. Allison advanced to the 1930 Wimbledon Singles Championship, but ran into a buzz saw named Bill Tilden and lost in straight sets, 6-3, 9-7, 6-4. Showcasing his versatility, he and partner Edith Cross won the 1930 U.S. National Mixed Doubles Championship over Americans Marjorie Morrill and Frank Shields, 6-4, 6-4.
Representing the United States in Davis Cup play for eight years largely contributed to Allison’s place in tennis annals. He played 44 matches, 16 in doubles with Van Ryn, the third most of any player in history behind John McEnroe and Vic Seixas. He compiled an impresssive 14-2 record in doubles, second best in history behind only Peter Fleming and McEnroe’s 14-1 mark. Allison’s U.S. teams made the Davis Cup championship match four times, but never won a cup.
Allison had the tools to shine in singles, rising to become the top ranked player in the U.S. in 1934 and 1935. He won the 1935 U.S. National Men’s Singles Championship in both dramatic and memorable fashion. To reach the final, Allison had to dispense of the great Fred Perry in the semifinals, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. It was sweet revenge for the Texan, who had previously lost to Perry 8-6 in the fifth set in the 1934 finals. On center court in Forest Hills for a second consecutive year, Allison dusted Sidney Wood, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, marking one of the most lopsided championship wins in history.
After his retirement from competitive tennis, Allison served as an assistant tennis coach at his alma mater from 1938-41 and then served his country, becoming a colonel in the United States Army Air Forces in World War II. He returned to the University of Texas as an assistant from 1947-57 until becoming head coach. He led the Longhorns until 1972, leading the team to four Southwest Conference Championships.
Australian Nationals: SF (1933)
Wimbledon: F (1930)
U.S. Nationals: W (1935)
Australian Nationals: SF (1933)
Wimbledon: W (1929), W (1930)
U.S. Nationals: W (1931), W (1935)
U.S. Nationals: W (1930)