Budge Patty, 1950 Wimbledon, Roland Garros champ, dies at 97

Sports

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP)John Edward ”Budge” Patty, a former No. 1-ranked tennis player who won back-to-back major titles at the French Championships and Wimbledon in 1950, has died. He was 97.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame, which inducted Patty in 1977, said he died on Sunday at a hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland, citing information it received from his wife, Marcina.

Patty lost in the final at Roland Garros in 1949 before beating future Hall of Famer Jaroslav Drobny in five sets for the title the following year. He then defeated another Hall of Famer, Frank Sedgman, in the Wimbledon final.

The only other Americans to win the French Championships – which later became the French Open – and Wimbledon in the same year were Don Budge (1938) and Tony Trabert (1955).

Patty’s tennis career was interrupted by four years of military service during World War II. He was known for a superb forehand volley, and he won 76 singles titles between 1947 and ’57.

”Budge Patty was one of the great American players of the 1940s and ’50s,” Hall of Fame president Stan Smith said in a statement Friday. ”Winning over 70 tournament titles is remarkable, and to win Wimbledon and Roland Garros back-to-back is a massive feat. While he competed before my time, I’ve often heard about how beautiful and elegant his game was. He will be remembered as a standout among the tennis history’s greatest champions.”

Patty won two other Grand Slam titles in doubles. He teamed with childhood practice partner and future Hall of Famer Pauline Betz to win the 1946 mixed-doubles title at Roland Garros. Eleven years later, at age 33, Patty and 43-year-old Gardnar Mulloy made a surprising run to the Wimbledon doubles championship.

The nickname ”Budge” came from Patty’s older brother, who quipped his brother scarcely displayed much urgency and therefore wouldn’t ”budge.”

Born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Patty lived for more than 70 years in Europe. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

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