Bill Johnston (tennis)

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Bill Johnston
Vincent Richards, Bill Tilden and Bill Johnston at the 1922 Davis Cup.jpg
Vincent Richards, Bill Tilden and Bill Johnston at the 1922 Davis Cup.
Country  United States
Born (1894-11-02)November 2, 1894
San Francisco, CA, USA
Died May 1, 1946(1946-05-01) (aged 51)
San Francisco, CA, USA
Height 1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)
Turned pro 1913 (amateur tour)
Retired 1928
Plays Right-handed (1-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HOF 1958 (member page)
Singles
Highest ranking No. 1 (1919, A. Wallis Myers)[1]
Grand Slam Singles results
Wimbledon W (1923)
US Open W (1915, 1919)
Other tournaments
WHCC W (1923)
Doubles
Grand Slam Doubles results
Wimbledon SF (1921)
US Open W (1915, 1916, 1920)
Mixed Doubles
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
Wimbledon 2R (1923)
US Open W (1921)
Team competitions
Davis Cup W (1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926)

William "Little Bill" Johnston (November 2, 1894 in San Francisco, California – May 1, 1946 in San Francisco, California) was a former World No. 1 American tennis champion.

Biography[edit]

Bill Johnston was born November 2, 1894, in San Francisco, the son of Robert Johnston, an electrical plant mechanic and Margaret Burns, of Irish origin. Bill started to play tennis in early 1906, aged eleven, on the public asphalt courts in Golden Gate Park. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake the schools were closed and he spent much of his spare time practicing on the tennis courts. He achieved his first tournament victory at the 1910 Bay Counties junior singles competition.[2]

In 1916 Johnston won the Cincinnati Open (now Cincinnati Masters) after Clarence Griffin defaulted in the Challenge Round. Johnston won the Longwood Challenge Cup, played on the Longwood Courts at Chestnut Hill, MA in 1913, 1916, 1919, 1920 and 1921.[3]

Johnston was the co-World No. 1 player in 1919 and in 1922 respectively along with Gerald Patterson and Bill Tilden. He won the US Championships in 1915 and 1919, as well as the World Hard Court Championships (Clay) and Wimbledon in 1923.[4]

Until "Big Bill" Tilden began to defeat him regularly in 1920, Johnston had been the best American player for a number of years and was ranked No.1 by the United States Lawn Tennis Association in 1915 and 1919.[5] Johnston had beaten Tilden in three straight sets in the final of the 1919 US Championships, before Tilden overtook him in 1920. Johnston remained competitive with Tilden for the next seven or eight years, but was never able to beat Tilden in an important match again, for instance, in 1922 Johnston defeated Tilden three times out of four occasions but Tilden beat Johnston in the final of the U.S. Championships in five sets.[6] In 1923, despite Johnston winning both the World Hard Court Championships and Wimbledon, he again failed to beat Tilden at the US Championships, losing in three one-sided sets. Johnston again threatened to get closer to beating Tilden on the big stage in following years, but memorably lost the 1925 US Championships final in five sets to Tilden. Together, Johnston and Tilden won seven consecutive Davis Cup trophies, from 1920 to 1926, a record that still stands.[7]

Johnston was renowned for the power and deadliness of his forehand drive,[citation needed] which he hit shoulder-high with a Western grip, and which was universally considered the best forehand of all time[citation needed] until the advent of Pancho Segura and his two-handed forehand in the late 1940s. Johnston died of tuberculosis in 1946 at the age of 51.[8]

Bill Johnston was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1958.

Grand Slam finals[edit]

William M. Johnston at serve

Singles: 9 (3 titles, 6 runners-up)[edit]

Outcome Year Tournament Opponent Score
Winner 1915 U.S. Championships United States Maurice McLoughlin 1–6, 6–0, 7–5, 10–8
Runner-up 1916 U.S. Championships United States R. Norris Williams 6–4, 4–6, 6–0, 2–6, 4–6
Winner 1919 U.S. Championships United States Bill Tilden 6–4, 6–4, 6–3
Runner-up 1920 U.S. Championships United States Bill Tilden 1–6, 6–1, 5–7, 7–5, 3–6
Runner-up 1922 U.S. Championships United States Bill Tilden 6–4, 6–3, 2–6, 3–6, 4–6
Winner 1923 Wimbledon United States Frank Hunter 6–0, 6–3, 6–1
Runner-up 1923 U.S. Championships United States Bill Tilden 4–6, 1–6, 4–6
Runner-up 1924 U.S. Championships United States Bill Tilden 1–6, 7–9, 2–6
Runner-up 1925 U.S. Championships United States Bill Tilden 6–4, 9–11, 3–6, 6–4, 3–6

Doubles[edit]

Titles (3)[edit]

Year Championship Partner Opponents Score
1915 U.S. Championships United States Clarence Griffin United States Maurice E. McLoughlin
United States Tom Bundy
2–6, 6–3, 6–4, 3–6, 6–3
1916 U.S. Championships United States Clarence Griffin United States Maurice E. McLoughlin
United States Ward Dawson
6–4, 6–3, 5–7, 6–3
1920 U.S. Championships United States Clarence Griffin United States Roland Roberts
United States Willis E. Davis
6–2, 6–2, 6–3

Mixed doubles[edit]

Titles (1)[edit]

Year Championship Partner Opponents Score
1921 U.S. Championships United States Mary Browne United States Molla Bjurstedt Mallory
United States Bill Tilden
3–6, 6–4, 6–3

References[edit]

  1. ^ United States Lawn Tennis Association (1972). Official Encyclopedia of Tennis (First Edition), p. 422.
  2. ^ Ohnsorg, Roger W. Robert Lindley Murray: The Reluctant U.S. Tennis Champion; includes "The First Forty Years of American Tennis". Victoria, BC: Trafford On Demand Pub. pp. 39, 40, 295–298. ISBN 9781426945144. 
  3. ^ Irving C. Wright, ed. (1921). 1921 Wright & Ditson Official Lawn Tennis Guide. Wright & Ditson. pp. 39, 40. 
  4. ^ "Johnston is Again Supreme in Tennis" (PDF). The New York Times. December 21, 1919. 
  5. ^ "Johnston Officially Rated Best Tennis Star" (PDF). Sporting Life, Volume 66 Number 15. December 11, 1915. p. 22. 
  6. ^ Collins, Bud (2010). The Bud Collins History of Tennis (2nd ed. ed.). [New York]: New Chapter Press. pp. 457, 458. ISBN 978-0942257700. 
  7. ^ "Davis Cup Player Profile – Bill Johnston". ITF. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Bill Johnston Dies; Long A Tennis Star". The Milwaukee Journal. May 2, 1946. 

External links[edit]