Harry Hopman hitting an overhead in the 1930s
|Full name||Henry Christian Hopman|
12 August 1906|
Glebe, New South Wales
|Died||27 December 1985
|Plays||Right-handed (1-handed backhand)|
|Int. Tennis HOF||1978 (member page)|
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|Australian Open||F (1930, 1931, 1932)|
|French Open||QF (1930)|
|Wimbledon||4R (1934, 1935)|
|US Open||QF (1938, 1939)|
|Grand Slam Doubles results|
|Australian Open||W (1929, 1930)|
|French Open||F (1930, 1948)|
|US Open||F (1939)|
|Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results|
|Australian Open||W (1930, 1936, 1937, 1939)|
|US Open||W (1939)|
Harry Hopman was born on 12 August 1906 in Glebe, Sydney as the third child of John Henry Hopman, schoolteacher, and his wife Jennie Siberteen, née Glad. He started playing tennis at the age of 13 and, playing barefoot, won an open singles tournament on a court in the playground of Rosehill Public School, where his father was headmaster.
Hopman was the successful captain-coach of 22 Australian Davis Cup teams from 1939 to 1967. With players such as Frank Sedgman, Ken McGregor, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver, Neale Fraser, John Newcombe, Fred Stolle, Tony Roche, Roy Emerson, Ashley Cooper, Rex Hartwig, Mervyn Rose, and Mal Anderson, he won the cup an unmatched 16 times.
In late 1951, when it appeared that Davis Cup player Frank Sedgman was about to turn professional, Hopman used his column in the Melbourne Herald to lead a fundraising campaign designed to keep Sedgman in the amateur ranks. Enough money was raised to purchase a gasoline station in the name of Sedgman's wife-to-be and Sedgman remained an amateur for one more year. As Joe McCauley writes in The History of Professional Tennis, "For some reason, the pious Hopman, a strong opponent of the paid game, did not regard this as an infringement of Sedgman's amateur status."
Hopman was also a journalist, providing sporting commentary. After World War II, this became his focus until he was once again coaxed into tennis coaching. As an example of Hopman's journalism, Kramer writes that Sedgman, by then a successful touring professional, once "volunteered to help train the Aussie [Davis Cup] team. Hopman accepted the offer, and then he took Sedg aside and told him that what Hoad and Rosewall needed was confidence. So he told Sedg to go easy on them, which he gladly did. After a few days, Hopman wrote an exclusive in his newspaper column revealing how his kids could whip Sedgman and how this proved once again that amateurs were better than the pros."
Tennis great Jack Kramer, who was also a successful promoter of the professional tour, writes in his 1979 autobiography that Hopman "always knew exactly what was going on with all his amateurs. He had no children, no hobbies, and tennis was everything to him. Hopman always said he hated the pros, and he battled open tennis to the bitter end, but as early as the time when Sedgman and McGregor signed, Hopman was trying to get himself included in the deal so he could get a job with pro tennis in America."
Kramer, who admits that Hopman "has never been my favorite guy", goes on to say "The minute one of his stars would turn pro, Hopman would turn on him. No matter how close he'd been to a player, as soon as he was out of Hopman's control, the guy was an outcast. 'It was as if we'd never existed' Rosewall said once."
Hopman was first married to Nell Hall, with whom he won four mixed doubles finals. The marriage took place on 19 March 1934 at St Philip's Anglican Church in Sydney. She died of an intercranial tumour on 10 January 1968. Hopman emigrated to the United States in 1969 and became a successful professional coach, at Port Washington Tennis Academy, of future champions such as Vitas Gerulaitis and later John McEnroe. Hopman later opened the Hopman Tennis Academy in Largo, Florida, with his second wife, Lucy Pope Fox, whom he married on 2 February 1971.
According to at least one tennis historian, Hopman was a heavy gambler who "once had to sell the land he had purchased for his dream home."
Hopman died of a heart attack on 27 December 1985.
Grand Slam tournaments
- Singles runner-up: 1930, 1931, 1932
- Men's Doubles winner: 1929, 1930
- Men's Doubles runner-up: 1931, 1932
- Mixed Doubles winner: 1930, 1936, 1937, 1939
- Mixed Doubles runner-up: 1940
- Men's Doubles runner-up: 1930, 1948
- Mixed Doubles runner-up: 1945
- Men's Doubles runner-up: 1939
- Mixed Doubles winner: 1939
Australia Davis Cup
- team member 1928, 1930, 1932
- Captain 1938–1939, 1950–1969
- winning captain 1939, 1950–1953, 1955–1957, 1959–1962, 1964–1967
- losing captain 1938, 1954, 1958, 1963, 1968
- Mixed Doubles 1934
- "Hopman, Henry Christian (Harry) (1906–1985)". Australian Dictionary of Biography.
- The History of Professional Tennis (2003) Joe McCauley, p. 58.
- Jack Kramer with Frank Deford (1981). The Game : My 40 Years in Tennis. London: Deutsch. pp. 224, 225. ISBN 0233973079.
- "Hopman, Eleanor Mary (Nell) (1909–1968)". Australian Dictionary of Biography.
- Interviews by tennis historian Rich Hillway in 2005 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
- The Game, My 40 Years in Tennis (1979), Jack Kramer with Frank Deford (ISBN 0-399-12336-9)
- The History of Professional Tennis (2003), Joe McCauley
- Rich Hillway, tennis historian