Australia’s Owen Davidson, who won 13 Grand Slam doubles titles, died on 12 May at the age of 79 in Conroe, Texas, where had been a long-time resident.
Owen seemed to make 99 per cent of his first volleys after serving. I loved playing in a team, and I loved Owen Davidson because of that, because he was my best partner, Billie Jean King
The International Tennis Hall of Fame announced on Saturday that Davidson, who 11 major titles in mixed doubles and 2 in men’s doubles, had died on Friday.
Davidson worked for the LTA from 1967 to 1970, where his responsibilities included being Head Pro at the All England Club, Manager of British competitive tennis and Coach of the British Davis Cup team.
During those years in England, Davidson wrote two books, ‘Lawn Tennis: The Great Ones, Great Women Tennis Players’ and ‘Tackle Lawn Tennis Way’.
Davidson also held coaching positions at such prestigious venues as the John Newcombe Tennis Academy, near San Antonio, The Woodlands Country Club in Houston, and as COO of Grand Slam Sports Marketing, a partnership of former professional tennis players that created specialty tennis events for dozens of companies throughout the world.
Known as ‘Davo’, Davidson teamed with Billie Jean King to win 8 of his Grand Slam trophies in a career that spanned from the early 1960s to mid-1970s.
In 1967, Davidson became only the third player in tennis history to earn all 4 major mixed doubles titles in the same year In 1967, starting in Adelaide with compatriot Lesley Turner and the next 3 earned with King.
All told, the King-Davidson duo won 4 Wimbledons, 3 US Opens and 1 French Open.
“Yesterday, the world lost Owen Davidson, a Hall of Fame tennis champion who proudly represented Australia in @DavisCup, a man who was my mixed doubles partner, & a longtime friend to Ilana & me,” King said in a tweet. “Owen was the only man with whom I could win the Mixed @Wimbledon.
“Our hearts are broken, but we find peace in the lifetime of wonderful memories we shared with our friend Davo.”
Arguably their greatest triumph came in the 1971 Wimbledon final when they beat the formidable team of Margaret Court and Marty Riessen in an epic, 3-6 6-2 15-13.
It was his accurate volleys that King admired most, with the American once commenting: “Owen seemed to make 99 per cent of his first volleys after serving.
“I loved playing in a team, and I loved Owen Davidson because of that, because he was my best partner,” she added.
As a men’s doubles player, and known for his strong left-arm serve, Davidson earned 2 majors, at the 1972 Australian Open with Ken Rosewall and with John Newcombe at the US Open the following year.
“They were our childhood idols and to beat them was very special,” he said.
His best singles effort was making the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1966 by upsetting two-time defending champion Roy Emerson, before losing 7-5 in the 5th set to eventual champion Manuel Santana.
He also wrote his name in the history books when he became the first player to win a match in the Open-era, beating John Clifton in the 1st-round of the British Hardcourt Championships in Bournemouth in 1968.
He reached the quarter-finals in singles at 7 other majors, 5 times at the Australian Championships and twice at the US Nationals, a precursor to the US Open.
“I’m saddened to learn of Owen Davidson’s passing,” fellow Australian Rod Laver said. “He was a fellow leftie, great sporting champion, the best in doubles, and above all, a great mate. Rest in peace Davo.”
Davidson’s bright personality made him popular with other players, who often teased him about his occasionally sloppy personal habits, which contrasted with his neat play on the court.
He continued to be involved in the sport he loved and its people, often guest coaching at John Newcombe’s tennis camps.
The amiable Aussie was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2010 with Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley calling him ‘a true Aussie legend of the sport’ on Sunday.
Born in Melbourne in 1943, Davidson was coached by compatriot and fellow Hall of Famer Mervyn Rose, and worked with Davis Cup captain Harry Hopman as a member of the Australian Davis Cup team.
A long-time American resident, Davidson died in Texas and is survived by his son Cameron and brother Trevor Davidson.
Owen Keir Davidson – Born 4 October 1943 / Died 12 May 2023