• U.S.

Sport: Abdication

2 minute read

Not for many was it news last week that a freckled, redheaded, 23-year-old son of a California laundryman had abdicated the throne of amateur tennis, had turned in his four-titled crown for $75,000 in cash. For the past two months it has been common knowledge that Donald Budge, champion of Australia, France, England and the U. S., would sign with Jack Harris (front man for Wilson Sporting Goods Co.) for an indoor barnstorming tour this winter. Last week the papers were signed. Starting January 3, Budge will display his talents opposite Ellsworth Vines in 70 U. S. cities, may make a second tour with Fred Perry.

U. S. tennis fans were startled, however, when Prime Minister Holcombe Ward (president of the U. S. Lawn Tennis Association), Foreign Minister Walter Pate (Davis Cup captain) and the whole Amateur Tennis Cabinet, although left with inadequate defense for the Davis Cup and a potential loss of revenue thereby, publicly wished their golden boy godspeed in going over to the enemy, professional tennis. In fact, Foreign Minister Pate was host at the abdication party, invited Promoter Jack Harris formally to alienate the king in the Pate offices at No. 2 Wall Street.

This unprecedented procedure—so contrary to the U. S. L. T. A.’s attitude when Ellsworth Vines, Bill Tilden and Vincent Richards turned pro*—caused tennis fans to wonder whether the U. S. L. T. A. was at last willing to sign a peace treaty with professionalism, to sanction open tennis tournaments and to share the natural resources it has laid first claim to for half a century.

*Tilden, 45, now lives in England, competes in European professional tournaments. Richards, first of the famed “White Pants Willies” to turn pro (1926), derives a comfortable income from sporting goods. Vines, after five years of barnstorming, plans to retire after this season; he earned $40,000 the first year, $17,000 last year.

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