kids encyclopedia robot

Don Budge facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Don Budge
Don Budge2.jpg
Full name John Donald Budge
Country (sports)  United States
Born (1915-06-13)June 13, 1915
Oakland, California
Died January 26, 2000(2000-01-26) (aged 84)
Scranton, Pennsylvania
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Turned pro 1938 (amateur tour from 1932)
Retired 1955
Plays Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HoF 1964 (member page)
Career record 569-278 (67.1%)
Career titles 43
Highest ranking No. 1 (1937, A. Wallis Myers)
Grand Slam singles results
Australian Open W (1938)
French Open W (1938)
Wimbledon W (1937, 1938)
US Open W (1937, 1938)
Professional majors
US Pro W (1940, 1942)
Wembley Pro W (1939)
French Pro W (1939)
Highest ranking No. 1 (1942, Ray Bowers)
Grand Slam doubles results
Australian Open SF (1938)
Wimbledon W (1937, 1938)
US Open W (1936, 1938)
Grand Slam mixed doubles results
Wimbledon W (1937, 1938)
US Open W (1937, 1938)

John Donald Budge (June 13, 1915 – January 26, 2000) was an American tennis player. He is most famous as the first player — of any nationality, male or female, and still the only American male — to win the four tournaments that comprise the Grand Slam of tennis in a single year. Budge was the second male player to win all four Grand Slam events in his career after Fred Perry, and is still the youngest to achieve that feat. He won ten majors, of which six were Grand Slam events (consecutively, male record) and four Pro Slams, the latter achieved on three different surfaces. Budge was considered to have the best backhand in the history of tennis, at least until the emergence of Ken Rosewall in the 1950s and 1960s, although most observers rated Budge's backhand the stronger of the two. He is also the only male player to have achieved the triple crown (winning singles, doubles and mixed at the same tournament) on three separate occasions, and the only one to have achieved it twice in one year.

Early life

Budge was born in Oakland, California, the son of Scottish immigrant and former soccer player John "Jack" Budge, who had played several matches for the Rangers reserve team before emigrating to the United States, and Pearl Kincaid Budge. Growing up, he played a variety of sports before taking up tennis. He was tall and slim, and his height would eventually help what is still considered one of the most powerful serves of all time. Budge studied at the University of California, Berkeley in late 1933 but left to play tennis with the U.S. Davis Cup auxiliary team.

Amateur career

Accustomed to hard-court surfaces in his native California, he had difficulty playing on the grass courts in the east. However, a good instructor and hard work changed that, and in both 1937 and 1938 he swept Wimbledon, winning the singles, the men's doubles title with Gene Mako, and the mixed doubles crown with Alice Marble, a feat which he repeated at the 1938 U.S. Championships. Budge became the first man in history to have achieved the "Triple Crown" at a Grand Slam event three times, eclipsing Bill Tilden who won consecutive Triple Crowns at the U.S. Championships.

He gained the most fame for his match that year against Gottfried von Cramm in the Davis Cup inter-zone finals against Germany. Trailing 1–4 in the final set, he came back to win 8–6. His victory allowed the US team to advance and to then win the Davis Cup for the first time in 12 years. For his efforts, he was named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year and he became the first tennis player ever to be voted the James E. Sullivan Award as America's top amateur athlete.

In 1938, Budge dominated amateur tennis defeating John Bromwich in the Australian final, Roderick Menzel in the French final, Henry "Bunny" Austin at Wimbledon, where he never lost a set, and Gene Mako in the U.S. Championships final, to become the first person ever to win the Grand Slam in tennis. He also is the youngest man in history to complete the "Career Grand Slam" (the four majors in one's career). He completed that on June 11, 1938, in winning the French singles, two days before his 23rd birthday.

Professional career

Budge turned professional in October 1938 after winning the Grand Slam, and thereafter played mostly head-to-head matches. In 1939, he beat the two reigning kings of professional tennis, Ellsworth Vines, 22 matches to 17, and Fred Perry, 28 matches to 8. That year, he also won two major pro tournaments, the French Pro Championship over Vines and the Wembley Pro tournament over Hans Nüsslein. He also finished in first place on the European tour in the summer that also featured Vines, Tilden and Stoefen. There was no World series professional tour in 1940 but seven principal tournaments. Budge kept his world crown by winning four of these events: the Southeastern Pro at Miami Beach (beating Perry in the final), the North & South Pro at Pinehurst (beating Dick Skeen in the final), the National Open at White Sulphur Springs (beating Bruce Barnes in the final) and the United States Pro Championship (beating Perry in the final). In 1941, Budge played another major tour beating the 48-year-old Bill Tilden, the final outcome being 47–6 plus one tie. In 1942, Budge won both his last major tour over Bobby Riggs, Frank Kovacs, Perry and Les Stoefen and for a second time the U.S. Pro at Forest Hills, crushing Riggs 6–2, 6–2, 6–2 in the final.

Military service

Don Budge 1937
Don Budge at the White City Stadium, Sydney in December 1937

In 1942, Budge joined the United States Air Force to serve in World War II. At the beginning of 1943, in an obstacle course, he tore a muscle in his shoulder. In his book 'A Tennis Memoir' page 144 he said:

The tear didn't heal, and the scar tissue that was formed complicated the injury and made it even serious. Nevertheless ... I was able to carry on with my military duties ... as long as two years afterwards, in the spring of '45, I was given a full month's medical leave so that I could go to Berkeley and have an osteopath, Dr. J. LeRoy Near, work with me.

This permanently hindered his playing abilities. During his wartime duty he played some exhibitions for the troops in particular during the summer 1945 with the war winding down, Budge played in a US Army (Budge-Frank Parker) – US Navy (Riggs – Wayne Sabin) competition under the Davis Cup format: the main confrontations were the Budge-Riggs meetings knowing that both Americans were the best players in the world in 1942 just before being enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces and again when they came back to the professional circuit in 1945. In the first match, on the island of Guam, Budge trounced Riggs 6–2, 6–2. On the island of Peleliu, Budge won again 6–4, 7–5. Riggs won the next two matches against Budge, 6–1, 6–1 (island of Ulithi) and 6–3, 4–6, 6–1 (island of Saipan). Budge confided in Parker his disbelief at losing two matches in a row to Riggs. In the fifth and final match on the island of Tinian, scheduled for the first week of August 1945, Riggs defeated Budge 6–8, 6–1, 8–6. This was the first time Budge had been beaten by Riggs in a series (Riggs also won three matches out of five against the amateur Parker, both holder and future titlist of the U.S. Amateur Nationals at Forest Hills) thereby giving Riggs an important psychological edge in their forthcoming peacetime tours.

Post war

After the war, Budge played for a few years, mostly against Riggs. In 1946, Budge lost narrowly to Riggs in their U.S. tour, 24 matches to 22. Riggs thereby established himself as the world No. 1. According to Kramer,

Bobby played to Budge's shoulder, lobbed him to death, won the first twelve matches, thirteen out of the first fourteen, and then hung on to beat Budge, twenty-four matches to twenty-two. At the age of thirty, Don Budge was very nearly a has-been. That was the way pro tennis worked then.

The hierarchy was confirmed at the U.S. Pro, held at Forest Hills where Riggs easily defeated Budge in the last round. There was a tournament circuit in 1946. Budge won events at Memphis in June (beating Riggs in the final), Richmond in June (beating Riggs in the final), Philadelphia in July (beating Van Horn in the final) and San Francisco in October (beating Riggs in the final). Budge finished second in the points table behind Riggs.

In 1947 Riggs stayed the pro king by defeating Budge in the U.S. Pro final in five sets.

According to Riggs, however, Budge still had a very powerful, very deadly overhead and rather than winning outright very many points with his lobbing, he actually achieved two other goals: his constant lobbing led Budge to play somewhat deeper at the net than he would have otherwise, thereby making it easier for Riggs to hit passing shots for winners; and the constant lobbing helped to wear Budge down by forcing him to run back to the backline time after time. Budge reached two more U.S. Pro finals, losing in 1949 at Forest Hills to Riggs and in 1953 in Cleveland to Pancho Gonzales.

In 1954, Budge recorded his last significant victory in a North American tour with Pancho Gonzales, Pancho Segura, and Frank Sedgman when, in Los Angeles, he defeated Gonzales, by then the best player in the world. In April 1955 Budge won the U. S. Pro Clay Court Championships at Fort Lauderdale beating Riggs in the final.

Later years and honors

After retiring from competition, Budge turned to coaching and conducted tennis clinics for children. According to Riggs' 1949 autobiography as of that writing, Budge owned a laundry in New York with Sidney Wood as well as a bar in Oakland. A gentleman on and off the court, he was much in demand for speaking engagements and endorsed various lines of sporting goods. With the advent of the Open era in tennis, in 1968 he returned to play at Wimbledon in the Veteran's doubles. In 1973, at the age of 58, he and former champion Frank Sedgman teamed up to win the Veteran's Doubles Championship at Wimbledon before an appreciative crowd.

Budge was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport, Rhode Island in 1964. He is referenced in the 1977 Broadway musical, Annie, in the song "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here." The reference is technically an anachronism, as the story is set in 1933, at which time Budge was an undergraduate at Berkeley and had not yet achieved prominence. The tennis courts at Bushrod Park in north Oakland are named for Budge where he played as a youth.

In December 1999, Budge was injured in an automobile accident from which he never fully recovered. He died on January 26, 2000 at a nursing home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, aged 84.


Budge is a consensus pick for being one of the greatest players of all time. He had a graceful, overpowering backhand that he hit with a slight amount of topspin and that, combined with his quickness and his serve, made him the best player of his time. E. Digby Baltzell wrote in 1994 that Budge and Laver "have usually been rated at the top of any all-time World Champions list, Budge having a slight edge." Will Grimsley wrote in 1971 that Budge "is considered by many to be foremost among the all-time greats." Paul Metzler, in his analysis of ten of the all-time greats, singles out Budge as the greatest player before World War II, and gives him second place overall behind Jack Kramer.

Jack Kramer himself has written that Budge was, in the long run, the greatest player who ever lived although Ellsworth Vines topped him when at the height of his game. Kramer said:

Budge was the best of all. He owned the most perfect set of mechanics and he was the most consistent... Don was so good that when he toured with Sedgman, Gonzales, and Segura in 1954 at the age of 38, none of those guys could get to the net consistently off his serve—and Sedgman, as quick a man who ever played the game, was in his absolute prime then. Don could keep them pinned to the baseline with his backhand too.

In his 1979 autobiography, Kramer considered the best player ever to have been either Don Budge (for consistent play) or Ellsworth Vines (at the height of his game). The next four best were, chronologically, Bill Tilden, Fred Perry, Bobby Riggs, and Pancho Gonzales. All of these sources were written, after Rod Laver completed his second, and Open, Grand Slam in 1969.

In early 1986 Inside Tennis, a magazine edited in Northern California, devoted parts of four issues to a lengthy article called "Tournament of the Century", an imaginary tournament to determine the greatest of all time. 25 players in all were named by the 37 experts in their lists of the ten best. The magazine then ranked them in descending order by total number of points assigned. The top eight players in overall points, with their number of first-place votes, were: Rod Laver (9), John McEnroe (3), Don Budge (4), Jack Kramer (5), Björn Borg (6), Pancho Gonzales (1), Bill Tilden (6), and Lew Hoad (1). McEnroe was still an active player and Laver and Borg had only recently retired. In the imaginary tournament, Laver beat McEnroe in the finals in five sets.

More recently, an Associated Press poll conducted in 1999 ranked Budge fifth, following Laver, Pete Sampras, Tilden, and Borg. Even more recently, in 2006, a panel of former players and experts was asked by TennisWeek to assemble a draw for a fantasy tournament to determine who was the greatest of all time. The top eight seeds were Roger Federer, Laver, Sampras, Borg, Tilden, Budge, Kramer, and McEnroe. In important polls, then, Budge has consistently been ranked in the top five or six. Perhaps only Tilden and Laver can boast such a high and long-standing critical assessment.

Major finals

Grand Slam tournaments

Singles: 7 (6 titles, 1 runner-up)

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Loss 1936 U.S. Championships Grass United Kingdom Fred Perry 2–6, 6–2, 8–6, 1–6, 10–8
Win 1937 Wimbledon Grass Nazi Germany Gottfried von Cramm 6–3, 6–4, 6–2
Win 1937 U.S. Championships Grass Nazi Germany Gottfried von Cramm 6–1, 7–9, 6–1, 3–6, 6–1
Win 1938 Australian Championships Grass Australia John Bromwich 6–4, 6–2, 6–1
Win 1938 French Championships Clay Czechoslovakia Roderich Menzel 6–3, 6–2, 6–4
Win 1938 Wimbledon Championships (2) Grass United Kingdom Bunny Austin 6–1, 6–0, 6–3
Win 1938 U.S. Championships (2) Grass United States Gene Mako 6–3, 6–8, 6–2, 6–1

Doubles: 7 (4 titles, 3 runner-ups)

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Loss 1935 U.S. Championships Grass United States Gene Mako United States Wilmer Allison
United States John Van Ryn
2–6, 3–6, 6–2, 6–3, 1–6
Win 1936 U.S. Championships Grass United States Gene Mako United States Wilmer Allison
United States John Van Ryn
6–4, 6–2, 6–4
Win 1937 Wimbledon Grass United States Gene Mako United Kingdom Pat Hughes
United Kingdom Raymond Tuckey
6–0, 6–4, 6–8, 6–1
Loss 1937 U.S. Championships Grass United States Gene Mako Nazi Germany Henner Henkel
Nazi Germany Gottfried von Cramm
4–6, 5–7, 4–6
Loss 1938 French Championships Clay United States Gene Mako French Third Republic Bernard Destremau
French Third Republic Yvon Petra
6–3, 3–6, 7–9, 1–6
Win 1938 Wimbledon Grass United States Gene Mako Nazi Germany Henner Henkel
Nazi Germany George von Metaxa
6–4, 6–3, 3–6, 8–6
Win 1938 U.S. Championships Grass United States Gene Mako Australia John Bromwich
Australia Adrian Quist
6–3, 6–2, 6–1

Pro Slam tournaments

Singles: 8 (4 titles, 4 runner-ups)

Result Year Championship Opponent Score
Win 1939 Wembley Pro Nazi Germany Hans Nüsslein 13–11, 2–6, 6–4
Win 1939 French Pro Championship United States Ellsworth Vines 6–2, 7–5, 6–3
Win 1940 US Pro Championships United Kingdom Fred Perry 6–3, 5–7, 6–4, 6–3
Win 1942 US Pro Championships United States Bobby Riggs 6–2, 6–2, 6–2
Loss 1946 US Pro Championships United States Bobby Riggs 3–6, 1–6, 1–6
Loss 1947 US Pro Championships United States Bobby Riggs 6–3, 3–6, 8–10, 6–4, 3–6
Loss 1949 US Pro Championships United States Bobby Riggs 7–9, 6–3, 3–6, 5–7
Loss 1953 US Pro Championships United States Pancho Gonzales 6–4, 4–6, 5–7, 2–6

Performance timeline

Don Budge joined professional tennis in 1939 and was unable to compete in the Grand Slam tournaments.

(W) Won; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (A) absent; (NH) not held. SR=strike rate (events won/competed)
Tournament Amateur career Professional career Titles / Played Career Win-Loss Career Win %
'34 '35 '36 '37 '38 '39 '40 '41 '42 '43 '44 '45 '46 '47 '48 '49 '50 '51 '52 '53 '54 '55
Grand Slam tournaments 6 / 11 58–5 92.06
Australian Championships A A A A W A A not held A A A A A A A A A A 1 / 1 5–0 100.00
French Championships A A A A W A not held A A A A A A A A A A 1 / 1 6–0 100.00
Wimbledon A SF SF W W A not held A A A A A A A A A A 2 / 4 24–2 92.31
U.S. Championships 4R QF F W W A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A 2 / 5 23–3 88.46
Pro Slam tournaments: 4 / 17 37–13 74.00
U.S. Pro A A A A A A W 1R W A NH A F F SF F A A SF F SF QF 2 / 11 24–9 72.73
French Pro A A A A A W not held 1 / 1 3–0 100.00
Wembley Pro A A NH A NH W not held SF SF A SF SF NH 1 / 5 10–4 71.43
Total: 10 / 28 95–18 84.07

Single titles

Amateur era

Singles (1934–1938) : 26 titles

Date Event Surface Runner up Score
1934 June 18 California State, Berkeley Hard United States Edward Chandler 6–4, 5–7, 7–5, 3–6, 7–5
1935 March 26 Palm Springs Invitation, California Hard United States Gene Mako 6–2, 6–2
August 12 Casino Trophy, Newport Grass United States Frank Shields 6–3, 5–7, 3–6, 8–6, 6–1
September 16 Pacific Southwest, Los Angeles Hard First Czechoslovak Republic Roderich Menzel 1–6, 11–9, 6–3 ab.
September 23 Pacific Coast, Berkeley Hard United States Bobby Riggs 6–0, 6–2, 7–9, 6–4
1936 January 13 Northern California, San Francisco United States Walter Senior 6–4, 6–1, 6–3
April 13 North & South Tournament, Pinehurst United States Harold Surface 6–0, 6–0, 6–1
June 8 Queen's Club Grass Court, London Grass United States David P. Jones 6–4, 6–3
August 3 Eastern Grass Court Championships, Rye Grass United States Bobby Riggs 6–8, 6–2, 6–4, 6–3
September 13 Pacific Southwest, Los Angeles Hard United Kingdom Fred Perry 6–2, 4–6, 6–2, 6–3
September 18 Pacific Coast, Berkeley Hard United States Walter Senior 6–1, 6–0, 6–3
December 26 Southern California, Los Angeles United States Bobby Riggs 6–4, 6–4
1937 February 1 Surf Club, Miami United States Brian Grant 6–3, 2–6, 6–4, 6–4
June 14 Queen's Club Grass Court, London Grass United Kingdom Henry Austin 6–1, 6–2
June 22 Wimbledon, London Grass Germany Gottfried von Cramm 6–3, 6–4, 6–2
August 16 Casino Trophy, Newport Grass United States Bobby Riggs 6–4, 6–8, 6–1, 6–2
September 2 US Championships, Forest Hills Grass Germany Gottfried von Cramm 6–1, 7–9, 6–1, 3–6, 6–1
September 20 Pacific Southwest, Los Angeles Hard Germany Gottfried von Cramm 2–6, 7–5, 6–4, 7–5
October 4 Pacific Coast, Berkeley Hard United States Bobby Riggs 4–6, 6–3, 6–2, 6–4
December 6 Victorian Championships, Melbourne Grass Australia John Bromwich 8–6, 6–3, 9–7
1938 January 21 Australian Championships, Adelaide Grass Australia John Bromwich 6–4, 6–2, 6–1
June 2 French Championships, Paris Clay First Czechoslovak Republic Roderich Menzel 6–3, 6–2, 6–4
June 20 Wimbledon, London Grass United Kingdom Henry Austin 6–1, 6–0, 6–3
July 5 Prague International, Prague First Czechoslovak Republic Ladislav Hecht 6–1, 6–4, 6–4
August 15 Casino Trophy, Newport Grass United States Sidney Wood 6–3, 6–3, 6–2
September 8 US Championships, Forest Hills Grass United States Gene Mako 6–3, 6–8, 6–2, 6–1


  • These records were attained in pre-Open Era of tennis.
  • Records in bold indicate peer-less achievements.
Championship Years Record accomplished Player tied Ref
Grand Slam tournaments 1938 Calendar Year Grand Slam winning all 4 Major singles titles Rod Laver
Grand Slam tournaments 1937–38 6 consecutive Grand Slam singles titles Stands alone
Grand Slam tournaments 1938 Youngest men's player in tennis history to achieve the Grand Slam (23 years, 3 months) Stands alone
Grand Slam tournaments 1937–38 Youngest men's player in tennis history to achieve the Career Grand Slam (22 years, 11 months) Stands alone
Grand Slam tournaments 1937–38 3 times achieved the "Triple Crown" winning singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at one Grand Slam event Wimbledon (1937–38) US Championships (1938) Stands alone
Grand Slam tournaments 1937–38 37 match win streak in consecutive tournaments Stands alone
Grand Slam tournaments 1934–38 92.06% (58–5) Career winning percentage Stands alone
Grand Slam tournaments 1938 100% (24–0) Single Season winning percentage Rod Laver
Jimmy Connors
Grand Slam tournaments 1934–38 91.22% (52–5) Career Grass Court winning percentage Stands alone
All tournaments 1937–38 14 consecutive tournament wins Stands alone

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Don Budge para niños

National Hispanic Heritage Month on Kiddle
Hispanic athletes in American sports
Alex Rodriguez
Manny Ramirez
Mark Aguirre
Carmelo Anthony
kids search engine
Don Budge Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.