Tennis legends Rod Laver and Billie Jean King have led the tributes to Owen Davidson, following news the Aussie great has died at the age of 79. Davidson's longtime friend Isabel Suliga revealed that he passed away in Conroe, Texas on Friday, with the International Tennis Hall of Fame confirming the sad news.
Davidson won 11 major titles in mixed doubles and two in men's doubles and in 1967 became just the third player in tennis history to earn all four major mixed doubles titles in the same year. Three of those titles came alongside American women's legend King, who paid respects to the memory of her former partner in a heartfelt message on social media.
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"Our hearts are broken, but we find peace in the lifetime of wonderful memories we shared with our friend Davo," King wrote in a tweet. Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley described the doubles specialist as "a true Aussie legend of the sport" and offered his condolences to the late Aussie champion's grieving family.
(1/2) 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.
Owen was the only man with whom I could win the Mixed @Wimbledon. pic.twitter.com/PToFBev1kY
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) May 13, 2023
(2/2) Together, we won 8 major Mixed titles.
Our hearts are broken, but we find peace in the lifetime of wonderful memories we shared with our friend Davo.
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) May 13, 2023
"Today, the tennis world mourns the loss of Owen "Davo" Davidson, a true Aussie legend of the sport," Tiley wrote. "With his powerful left-handed game and remarkable skill, the Tennis Hall of Famer dominated doubles, winning the mixed Grand Slam in 1967. My condolences to Owen’s family, friends."
Known for his strong lefty serve, Davidson won the 1972 Australian Open with Ken Rosewall and the 1973 US Open with John Newcombe - when they beat Rod Laver and Rosewall. In singles, he reached the 1966 semi-finals of Wimbledon by upsetting two-time defending champion Roy Emerson.
"I’m saddened to learn of Owen Davidson’s passing," Laver posted on Twitter. "He was a fellow leftie, great sporting champion, the best in doubles, and above all, a great mate. Rest in peace Davo."
I’m saddened to learn of Owen Davidson’s passing. He was a fellow leftie, great sporting champion, the best in doubles, and above all, a great mate. Rest in peace Davo. https://t.co/QBSW6CdyAN
— Rod Laver (@rodlaver) May 13, 2023
Tennis world mourns death of Owen Davidson
Davidson also reached the quarter-finals in singles at seven other majors - five times at the Australian Championships and twice at the U.S. Nationals, a precursor to the US Open. He had the honour of playing in the first match of the Open Era, defeating John Clifton in the first round of the British Hard Court Championships on April 22, 1968.
It was Davidson's partnership with King in the mixed doubles that proved particularly fruitful in the grand slams though, with the pair combining to win four major titles at Wimbledon, three at the US Open and one at the French Open. In the 1971 Wimbledon final, they outlasted Margaret Court and Marty Riessen 3-6 6-2 15-13.
Davidson was born in Melbourne on October 4, 1943. He was coached by Hall of Famer Mervyn Rose and worked with Davis Cup captain Harry Hopman as a member of the Australian Davis Cup team. Having also coached the British Davis Cup team from 1967-70, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2010.
The Aussie legend is survived by his son Cameron and brother Trevor Davidson. His death has sparked an outpouring of messages on social media as the tennis world remembers one of the greats of the sport.
— Todd Woodbridge (@toddwoodbridge) May 13, 2023
RIP Owen Davidson, 13 time Grand Slam doubles champion.
The Hall of Fame Inductee passed away at 79:https://t.co/Y5QJDS3lda
— TENNIS (@Tennis) May 13, 2023
Very sad to hear the passing of good mate Owen Davidson.
We played juniors together in Melbourne and then on the international circuit for many years
A fantastic doubles player but also reached the semifinals of the Wimbledon singles in 1966.
Will be greatly missed.
— Allan Stone (@AllanJStone) May 13, 2023
Aussie great Owen Davidson has sadly passed. May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/aEpzqi9Th4
— Gary Kelly (@maxcouch) May 13, 2023
RIP Owen Davidson, an Australian turned Texan who was one of the game's best doubles & mixed doubles players, above all with partner Billie Jean King
He also won the 1st match of tennis's Open Era in 1968 https://t.co/dLjV4ZaYzn pic.twitter.com/b1puepcw3W
— Christopher Clarey 🇺🇸 🇫🇷 🇪🇸 (@christophclarey) May 13, 2023
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