Margaret duPont, US tennis great, dies at 94

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LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Margaret Osborne duPont, the winner of more than 30 Grand Slam singles and doubles titles spanning three decades, has died, She was 94.

DuPont died late Wednesday in El Paso while in hospice care, Mary Skinner of VNA Hospice said Thursday. Other details were not released.

DuPont won the singles title at Wimbledon in 1947, the U.S. National Championship (now the U.S. Open) singles title from 1948 to 1950 and the French singles title in 1946 and 1948.

She won 31 doubles and mixed doubles titles at three Grand Slams between 1941 and 1962. DuPont never played the Grand Slam tournament in Australia.

DuPont won more titles at what is now the U.S. Open in singles, doubles, mixed doubles — 25 — than anyone else in history. She was recognized for the accomplishment in recent years with a gold ring from the governing body for U.S. tennis.

The El Paso paper, pointing to the website BleacherReport, wrote that duPont had spent 156 weeks ranked No. 1 in the world, tied with Maureen Connolly.


DuPont teamed with Brough (later Louise Brough Clapp) to win 20 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, which ties Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver for the most Grand Slam titles ever won by a women’s doubles team. DuPont and Brough won nine consecutive titles at the U.S. Championships from 1942 through 1950. They won that tournament 12 of the 14 years they entered as a team. Their 12 titles is an all-time record for a women’s doubles team at the U.S. Championships, easily surpassing the four career titles won by the teams of Navratilova and Shriver, Doris Hart and Shirley Fry Irvin, and Sarah Palfrey Cooke and Alice Marble. DuPont won a total of 13 women’s doubles titles at the U.S. Championships, which also is an all-time record, as is her 10 consecutive women’s doubles titles at the U.S. Championships from 1941 through 1950.

DuPont won more mixed doubles titles at the U.S. Championships than any other player. She won nine titles, including four with William Talbert (a record for a mixed doubles team at the U.S. Championships) and three with Neale Fraser.

According to John Olliff and Lance Tingay of The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, DuPont was ranked in the world top ten from 1946 through 1950, 1953, 1954, 1956, and 1957 (no rankings issued from 1940 through 1945), reaching a career high of World No. 1 in those rankings from 1947 through 1950.[1] DuPont was included in the year-end top ten rankings issued by the United States Lawn Tennis Association in 1938, 1941 through 1950, 1953, 1956, and 1958. She was the top ranked U.S. player from 1948 through 1950.[2]

From 1938 through 1958, DuPont went undefeated in ten Wightman Cup competitions, winning her ten singles and nine doubles matches. She also captained the U.S. team nine times, winning eight.

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From the El Paso Times (10/23/2011)

She lives just a couple of drop shots from the El Paso Country Club tennis courts, and that is fitting. She has had a love affair with the game since she was a tiny young girl, and it has never waned. That game has taken her around the world and back, allowed her to see a world change through the taut strings of her racket. She remains an elegant lady, a wonderful conversationalist and those eyes … well, those eyes have seen it all and never missed a thing.

“It was always just tennis, tennis, tennis, tennis,” she said, smiling, then breaking into a light laugh. “I’m not sure why I loved the game so much. But I did. I just did. I always have.”

“We lived a block from the park,” she said, smiling at the memory. “On my way to piano lessons (she rolls her eyes), I would walk past Golden Gate Park and see people playing tennis. I was just fascinated. I loved tennis. I just fell in love with it. I’ll never know why. My mother and father didn’t play at all. I would walk to the courts to play. My mother would come get me or I never would get home. Tom Stow, the pro there, took an interest in me.”

She worked tirelessly with Stow, playing and playing and playing.

“We wanted so badly to play Wimbledon,” she said, gazing out that window, reflecting on that time so long ago, so far away. “But, because of the war, there was no Wimbledon. We had to wait six years. I worked in the office at a marine ship building plant in Sausalito. I drove across with a friend and Bing Crosby — he worked somewhere there — every morning. Nice man. I would take the bus back, hopping on the bus with all my tennis rackets, going to the park to play.”

Pausing, smiling, she said, “I just remember waiting and waiting and waiting. We finally got to go. Was it exciting? Oh, yes … yes. I loved the grass courts. It really suited my game. First, I went over to London with the Wightman Cup team. None of us had ever been to Europe. It was a pretty sorry sight in London. There was no food. I don’t know how those poor people survived. I think about that every so often.

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