Marion Anthony (Tony) Trabert (born August 16, 1930 in Cincinnati, Ohio) is a retired American former World No. 1tennis champion and long-time tennis author, TV commentator, instructor, and motivational speaker. In his 1979 autobiography Jack Kramer, the long-time tennis promoter and great player himself, included Trabert in his list of the 21 greatest players of all time.
Trabert was a stand-out athlete in Tennis and Basketball at the University of Cincinnati, and was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. In 1951, he won the NCAA Championship Singles title. He was coached by George Menefee. He was also a starter on the basketball team. Previously, at Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati, he had been state singles champion three times and played guard on the 1948 basketball team that won the district championship.
Trabert's record in 1955 was one of the greatest ever by an American tennis player. He won the three most prestigious tournaments in amateur tennis—the French, Wimbledon, and American Championships—en route to being ranked world no. 1 among the amateurs for that year. Only Grand Slam winners Don Budge and Rod Laver, and in 2010 Rafael Nadal, have ever achieved the same feat. Trabert's own chance at a Grand Slam was stopped with a loss to Ken Rosewall in the semifinals at the Australian Championships. Trabert won 18 tournaments in 1955, compiling a match record of 106 wins to 7 losses.
An extremely athletic right-hander who mostly played a serve and volley game, Trabert won all five of the Grand Slam singles finals he appeared in. He won the French Championships in 1954 and 1955 (becoming the last American man to win that event until Michael Chang in 1989), the U.S. Championships in 1953 and 1955, and the Wimbledon title in 1955 without losing a set (a record shared with Don Budge, Chuck McKinley, and Björn Borg).
Trabert, along with Vic Seixas, was an American Davis Cup team mainstay during the early 1950s, during which time the Americans reached the finals 5 times, winning the cup in 1954. It was one of only two victories over the dominant Australian teams during the decade (the other being in 1958).
Trabert (left) in Australia with the eminent aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira in the early 1950s
Having reached the top amateur ranking in 1955, Trabert turned professional in the fall of that year. He was beaten on the head-to-head world pro tour in 1956 by the reigning king of professional tennis Pancho Gonzales, 74-27. However, he beat Gonzales in 5 sets for the 1956 French Pro title, and beat Frank Sedgman for the same title in 1959. He was runner-up to Sedgman in the Wembley Pro in 1958. In the US Pro, he was runner-up to Alex Olmedo in 1960.
In 2000, the USTA originated the Trabert Cup for Mens 40 and over International Competition.
In 1971, he began a 33-year career as a tennis and golf analyst for CBS covering such events as the US Open. During many of these years he teamed with Pat Summerall and was the lead expert commentator at the US Open. The popularity of their broadcasts helped propel the US Open into an annual financial success for CBS and the U.S. Tennis Association. He was also the US Davis team Captain from 1976 to 1980. Tony's captaincy is remembered by his frustration in dealing with the egos of younger players like John McEnroe, and for his racket-wielding expulsion of an apartheid protest demonstrator during a Davis Cup match against South Africa at the Newport Beach Tennis Club in California in April 1977. He is also a tennis author and a motivation speaker.
Forty years after his matches with Gonzales, Trabert told interviewer Joe McCauley "that Gonzales' serve was the telling factor on their tour — it was so good that it earned him many cheap points. Trabert felt that, while he had the better ground-strokes, he could not match Pancho's big, fluent service."
In 2004, Trabert announced his retirement from broadcasting while commentating at the Wimbledon Championships in London.