Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,728,043 articles and books

TENNIS\Big Bill Tilden remembered\Burbank man keeps memory alive.



The year was 1945. Bill Tilden William Tatem Tilden II (February 10, 1893 – June 5, 1953), often called "Big Bill", was an American tennis player who was the World No. 1 player for 7 years, the last time when he was 38 years old.  was 52 and he was not only running pro tournaments but playing in them, too - and doing amazingly well.

Art Anderson can see one event as if he were a ball boy again. Don Budge and Bobby Riggs Robert Larimore ("Bobby") Riggs (February 25, 1918 – October 25, 1995) was a 1930s–40s tennis player who was the World No. 1 or the co-World No. 1 player for three years, first as an amateur in 1941, then as a professional in 1946 and 1947.  were the two best players in the world, and they beat Englishman Fred Perry Frederick John Perry (May 18, 1909 – February 2, 1995) born in Stockport, Cheshire. was an English tennis player and three-time Wimbledon champion. He was the World No.  and Tilden, respectively, in the semifinals.

So Perry and Tilden, two old war horses, played for third-place money. Each man won a set. Perry got to a 5-3 lead in the third. Then, during a changeover, Anderson heard Perry, in his dry British way, say something like, "Bill, in your younger days, you would have been able to get that ball."

Tilden bristled bris·tle  
n.
1. A stiff hair.

2. A stiff hairlike structure: the bristles of a wire brush.

v. bris·tled, bris·tling, bris·tles

v.intr.
. His pupils got like BBs.

"Tilden served three out of four aces," recalled Anderson. "Perry served the next game; Tilden hit four winners in a row, so help me God, off Perry's serve. He came back and served three out of four aces. In 10 minutes, Perry was gone, and Tilden said, 'Don't you ever call me old again.'

"Perry came off the court and the reporters asked him what the hell happened. No one had seen tennis like this for years. He said, 'I made the cardinal sin in tennis. I made Bill Tilden mad.' "

Tilden, the greatest tennis player ever, died more than 40 years ago. But he has not faded in the mind of Anderson, 64, a Burbank engineer who is the guardian of Tilden's memorabilia and reputation.

Tilden died broke, and shunned by many because of his conviction for homosexuality with underage partners. But according to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 contemporary George Lott George Martin Lott (October 16, 1906 - December 2, 1991) was an American tennis player and tennis coach who was born in Springfield, Illinois, United States. Lott is mostly remembered as being one of the greatest doubles players of all time. He won the U.S.  and authoritative biographer Frank Deford Frank Deford (born December 16, 1938, in Baltimore, Maryland) is a senior contributing writer for Sports Illustrated, author, and commentator.

DeFord has been writing for Sports Illustrated since the early 1960s.
, Big Bill did not make advances to players, be they other adults or his pupils.

So Anderson, who was 11 when he began taking lessons from the master, remembers him as a teacher and an inspiration. And a friend. When Tilden was down and out in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850.  at the end of his life, Anderson and his mother stayed loyal and even took him in.

It was Anderson who discovered Tilden dead of a heart attack in June of 1953. Big Bill was due for dinner at the Andersons' and was uncharacteristically late. Anderson went to investigate and convinced Tilden's landlord to open his apartment. The former champion was sprawled across his bed fully dressed.

Tilden had hocked some of his trophies, but what memorabilia remained - cups, rackets rackets

Game for two or four players with ball and racket on a four-walled court. Rackets is played with a hard ball in a relatively large court (approximately 9 × 18 m), unlike the related games of squash and racquetball.
, books, unpublished manuscripts - he left to Anderson.

Tilden had had frequent run-ins with the U.S. Tennis Association and, according to Anderson, asked in his will that his memorabilia never be given to that organization.

Anderson has also declined to give anything to the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., because, he says, it's an extension of the USTA USTA United States Tennis Association
USTA United States Telecom Association
USTA United States Trotting Association
USTA United States Telephone Association
USTA United States Twirling Association
USTA United States Trademark Association
 and it has refused to set aside "a really nice area for Tilden."

Anderson did sell 84 lots of memorabilia at an Atlanta sports auction in 1991.

"I made a hell of a lot of money," he said. "The Tennis Hall of Fame ultimately came to the auction and bought $15,000 worth of stuff. . . . I think the sale would have made Bill happy, because the majority of the buyers were honestly Tilden fans. In fact, they came from all over the world.

"I bought back his Forest Hills perpetual trophy that he won in '23, '24, '25. I had a change of heart and bought that back for well over $30,000."

Anderson still has that sterling-silver cup, plus rackets, photos, books and unpublished manuscripts, in the Burbank house he shares with his wife and son. He even has a piece of hotel stationery on which Tilden had scrawled the plans for a pro-tennis council, with himself as tournament manager.

Anderson's own bric-a-brac is not nearly as evident in the house, even though he was an outstanding junior player in Southern California Southern California, also colloquially known as SoCal, is the southern portion of the U.S. state of California. Centered on the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego, Southern California is home to nearly 24 million people and is the nation's second most populated region,  and once ranked No. 17 among United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  men.

Anderson chose an engineering career rather than stay on the circuit because in those days there was no money in the sport except for a few pro vagabonds at the top.

For example, he won the Phoenix Thunderbird thunderbird

In North American Indian mythology, a powerful spirit in the form of a bird that watered the earth and made vegetation grow. Lightning was believed to flash from its eyes or beak, and the beating of its wings was thought to represent rolling thunder.
 tournament in 1950 and received $300 under the table. A few years later Arthur Ashe Noun 1. Arthur Ashe - United States tennis player who was the first Black to win United States and English singles championships (1943-1993)
Arthur Robert Ashe, Ashe
 won the same event and got $17,000, which was also chicken feed compared to today's prize money.

But he'd much rather talk about Tilden than himself. He loves to point out that Tilden was self-taught, that Big Bill developed the grip that allowed him to be a pioneer in hitting "the backhand drive.

"He went to Wimbledon in 1920 and blew everybody off the court, because no one had ever seen a backhand drive like this in their life. Tilden took tennis two or three notches ahead of where it had ever been."

"When you talk about (Pete) Sampras and (Andre) Agassi and these guys," added Anderson, "they can't hold a candle to this man. Now I know that I'm prejudiced, but you have to figure that these kids who come up today get coaching and all this.

"Tilden had to invent the modern game of tennis so that it could be played like it was ultimately played in the '20s, '30s and so on. He wrote the book.

"Can Andre Agassi go out there and develop tennis? On his own? That's one reason why it took Tilden until he was 27 to win his first world championship, but after that he was unbeatable."

PASSING SHOTS

In a terrific biography, "Big Bill Tilden Noun 1. Big Bill Tilden - United States tennis player who dominated men's tennis in the 1920s (1893-1953)
Tilden, William Tatem Tilden Jr.
, The Triumphs and the Tragedy," writer Frank Deford said, ". . . he is unquestionably un·ques·tion·a·ble  
adj.
Beyond question or doubt. See Synonyms at authentic.



un·question·a·bil
 the finest all-around player in history." Here are just a few reasons - courtesy of Art Anderson and the record books - why Deford was right:

Tilden won three Wimbledon singles titles. He would have won seven or eight, but he got in a fight with the U.S. tennis honchos and bypassed Wimbledon for five years, 1922-26, when he was in his prime.

He won 12 U.S. championships (seven in singles, five in doubles) and had a 34-7 record in 17 Davis Cup ties.

He won 21 of 28 Davis Cup Challenge Round matches.

According to Deford's book, "For seven years he never lost a match of any significance, anywhere in the world."

At age 37, he won the only match for the U.S. against France in the Davis Cup, defeating Jean Borotra. And he won Wimbledon.

At 50, he beat U.S. champion Ted Schroeder 6-2, 6-2 in an exhibition for the Navy. And in a well-attended match at a hotel court in Hollywood, he smashed Jack Kramer - just before Kramer was to be runner-up at the U.S. championships.

At 52, he joined Vinnie Richards to win the U.S. pro doubles.

At 53, he regularly reached the quarterfinals of pro tournaments on the circuit he helped organize.

CAPTION(S):

PHOTO[ordinal indicator, masculine]CHART

Art Anderson of Burbank, who took lessons from Bill Tilden, displays some of the trophies Tilden won during his storied career. Hans Gutknecht / Daily News Box Passing Shots (see text)
COPYRIGHT 1996 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.
roux
dave jones (Member): dave jones 6/6/2011 9:30 PM
Tryng to gt more info on my maternal grandfather, Robert I'anson Allen. We know he was a tennis pro at LA Country Club in the 30's. He served in WW I and II. He was also a personal friend of Bob Tilden or so so we believe.

Not sure this is going to the correct location but thought I'd try.

Thanks, Dave Jones
pfgltd@cox.net

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 12, 1996
Words:1187
Previous Article:WOMEN'S\Relatively big crowd sees Stanford edge by UCLA.
Next Article:A.V., CAL LUTHERAN RETURN VETERANS\Other area teams will rely on youth as parity prevails.



Related Articles
DAILY UPDATE.
APRIL IN OJAI MEANS TENNIS.
VIDEO WILL SPARK DEBATE, MEMORIES.
BILL TILDEN: FROM ICON TO PARIAH.
ANIMALS HAM IT UP AT ANNUAL AREA FAIR.
UCLA COULD SWEEP TITLES IN OJAI TENNIS.
A PLACE IN UCLA HISTORY : IT WAS 1933 WHEN JACK TIDBALL WON ITS FIRST NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP.
The trouble with Big Bill: tennis great Bill Tilden was disgraced because of his sexuality. Now playwright A.R. Gurney and star John Michael Higgins...

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters