Australian tennis legend Thelma Coyne Long, who won a total of 19 Grand Slam titles across singles, doubles and mixed doubles, is to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013.
The first of the class of 2013 to be announced, Coyne Long will be honoured in the Master Player Category, with the remainder of the class to be announced on March 4 as part of World Tennis Day before the Enshrinement Ceremony takes place on July 13 2013 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport.
Coyne Long’s career spanned more than two decades, from 1936 to 1958, with a vast majority of her success coming in her home nation. The 94-year-old Sydney resident won 18 of her 19 slam triumphs at the Australian Championships and remains the holder of several tournament records to this day.
Coyne Long is the oldest Australian women’s singles champion, having won the 1954 event aged 35 years and eight months, and the oldest Australian Open women’s doubles champion, claiming the 1956 title aged 37 years and 7 months. She is also the only player (man or woman) to have won 12 Australian doubles titles. Ten of those came alongside the late Hall of Famer Nancye Wynne Bolton, and together the pair hold the record for most Australian doubles titles by a team.
In total, Coyne Long won two singles titles, 12 doubles titles and four mixed doubles titles at the Australian Grand Slam, completing a rare Australian triple, winning the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles in 1952 and going on to achieve a career-high ranking of world No.7 that year. Her only major triumph away from Australia came in mixed doubles at Roland Garros in 1956.
"Thelma Coyne Long dominated women's tennis during her playing era, and she is an extraordinary athlete in Australian sports history,” said Stan Smith, Hall of Fame President and chair of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee. “We felt it fitting that the news of this well-deserved honour be announced during the Australian Open, the tournament where she had such tremendous success in the 1930s through 1950s. On behalf of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, I extend our congratulations to Thelma. We look forward to celebrating her career in the year ahead and to announcing her fellow Class of 2013 Hall of Famers in early March."
As well as her efforts on the tennis court, Coyne Long served her country during World War II. In May 1941, Coyne Long joined the Red Cross as a transport driver and worked in Melbourne, Australia. She joined the Australian Women's Army Service (AWAS) in February 1942 and rose to the rank of captain in April 1944. In recognition of her efforts throughout World War II, she was awarded both the Australian War Medal and Australian Service Medal for 1939-1945.
Upon her retirement from tennis, Coyne Long became a coach and mentored many junior players in her home state of New South Wales.