(Reuters) - U.S. tennis champion Doris Hart, who won 35 major titles in the 1940s and 1950s and three titles at Wimbledon in a single day, has died at age 89, the International Tennis Hall of Fame said on Saturday.
Hart died at her home in Coral Gables, Florida, on Friday, the Hall of Fame said, citing close friends. The cause of death was not announced.
Hart was the first player to win a career ‘boxed set’ of every title possible over her career, singles, doubles and mixed doubles, at the four major tournaments. Only Martina Navratilova and Margaret Court Smith have equaled the feat.
Hart’s titles came despite osteomyelitis in her right leg that left a permanent impairment. At one point amputation was considered, the Hall said in its portrait of her.
“For her to do what she did was special because she couldn’t run as well as other people. And yet she had the smarts,” longtime doubles partner Shirley Fry told the Taipei Times in 2004.
Hart’s game was based more on finesse than power, with matchless racquet control and an arsenal of shots.
Hart, a native of St. Louis, won seven major titles in 1951, playing three finals at Wimbledon in one day because of rain delays. She lost only one set during the two-week tournament and defeated Fry for the singles title, 6-1, 6-0.
“I wasn’t tired, I was on cloud nine,” she told the Taipei Times.
Hart, who played collegiate tennis at University of Miami, won 11 titles at the U.S. Nationals, 10 at both Wimbledon and the French Championship and four at the Australian.
Hart’s 35 wins ties her for fifth on the major titles list with Louise Brough. She won her first major title in 1947, teaming with Patricia Todd to win the Wimbledon doubles.
Hart’s first major singles championship came at the 1949 Australian Championships when she defeated Nancye Wynne Bolton, 6-3, 6-4.
Fry and Hart took 11 major titles, including four straight from 1950 to 1953 at Roland Garros.
“I will miss my friend Doris, but I know she is finally at peace and probably chasing down balls on two good legs now,” Fry said in a statement.
Hart was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame, in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1969. She left no immediate survivors, the Hall of Fame said.
Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by James Dalgleish