Four-time singles grand slam champion, Ashley Cooper, who was born on 15th September, 1936, died in Brisbane on 15th May after a long illness, aged 83.
Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed Craig Tiley
In 1958 Cooper became one of the very few players to win three majors in the same year when collected the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. He had also won the Aussie Open in the previous year.
He matched those singles titles with a similar number in doubles, Australia 1958, France 1957 & 1958 and the US in 1957.
He then led Australian Davis Cup team to victory over the USA in the 1957 competition but then failed to retain the title the following year when the US gained revenge.
That loss affected him badly as he considered he had failed his country and was prepared to withdraw from a professional contract he had signed with Jack Kramer. Unfortunately his playing career did end the following year when he picked up a back injury in 1959.
As a result Cooper returned to Brisbane to run a business and work as an administrator in the sport first Tennis Queensland, where he was involved in moving the state’s main tennis facility from Milton — which hosted an Australian Open and three Davis Cup finals — to Tennyson, where Pat Rafter Arena is now the venue for the annual Brisbane built on the site of a disused power station, and then Tennis Australia.
“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley following the news of his death.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.
“On a personal note, Ash was instrumental in our family moving to Australia and for that we will be forever grateful. He was a very humble advisor and great supporter of our transformation of Australian tennis. I will miss him.”
The great Rod Laver was also quick to pay tribute via social media. “He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories,” the two-time calendar Grand Slam winner wrote. “Farewell my friend.”
In addition, Laver said that Cooper had been one of the great Australians who “ruled the world in tennis, a whole group from the 50s to the 70s.” which included himself, Ken Rosewall, Frank Sedgman, Lew Hoad and Neale Fraser.
He married Helen Wood, the then reigning Miss Australia, in 1959, attracting some 3000 people to the wedding just to see the ‘golden couple’.
Throughout his life Cooper was honoured for the roles he played and in the Queen’s Birthday Honours Lis of 2007 was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his services to the sport.
He was also inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1991.
A walking bridge giving visitors access to the Queensland Tennis Centre is named in his memory.