BRISBANE, Australia — Ashley Cooper, who won four Grand Slam singles titles, including the Australian, Wimbledon and U.S. championships in 1958, has died. He was 83.
Tennis Australia said Friday that the former No. 1-ranked player and longtime administrator had died after a long illness.
Cooper led Australia’s Davis Cup team to victory over the United States to retain the title in 1957. When the result was reversed in a loss to the Americans the following year, he was so upset, according to Tennis Australia, that he considered withdrawing from a professional contract because he felt he owed the country more.
After a back injury ended his professional career in 1959, Cooper returned to Brisbane to run a business and work as an administrator in the sport. He was involved in moving the state’s main tennis facility from Milton — which hosted an Australian Open and three Davis Cup finals — to Tennyson, where Pat Rafter Arena is now the venue for the annual Brisbane International.
“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator, and he will be greatly missed,” Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said. “Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man.”
Australian tennis great Rod Laver posted a tribute to Cooper on social media.
So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family. https://t.co/HeKYuOFINm
— Rod Laver (@rodlaver) May 22, 2020
Laver said Cooper was among a group of players, including Ken Rosewall, Frank Sedgman and Lew Hoad, who “ruled the world in tennis, a whole group from the ’50s to the ’70s.”
A right-handed serve-and-volley player, Cooper won four Grand Slam singles and four Grand Slam doubles titles in the amateur era. In 1958, his only loss in the Grand Slams came in the semifinals at the French championships.