1960s Era Tennis Chronology



  • Rod (“the Rocket”) Laver upsets Neale Fraser in five sets for Australian tennis title; 17-year-old Margaret Smith defeats Jan Lehane and Brazil’s Maria Bueno to become the youngest player ever to win an Australian national women’s title (February, see 1966 below); Fraser beats Laver in Forest Hills seven months later (September).


  • Laver trounces Chuck McKinley of St. Louis in 55 minutes to win Wimbledon; Laver is declared “the best amateur in the world” by the New York Times (July 8).
  • Rene Lacoste creates a chrome-plated tubular tennis racket; with modifications, the Wilson Sporting Goods Company begins manufacturing this first metal racket in 1969.


  • Billie Jean Moffitt, 18, introduces herself to tennis by coming back from a 1-6 opening set deficit to beat top-seeded Margaret Smith in the opening card at Wimbledon (June).
  • The Rocket does it again at Wimbledon, but in shorter time before the Queen: beats Martin Mulligan of Australia in 53 minutes in straight sets: 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 (July 7); follows his wins in the Australian Open (January) and the French Open (June).
  • Australian sweep: red-haired Rod Laver defeats his fellow countryman Roy Emerson  to win U.S. title and complete first Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1938; also red-haired, Margaret Smith prevails over defending championship Darlene Hard of Long Beach, California (September).
  • Americans break Australia’s 4-year hold on the symbol of world tennis supremacy: bring the Davis Cup home (December).


  • A women’s team competition played since 1923 for the Wightman Cup (patterned after the men’s Davis Cup from 1900) broadens out from its Anglo-American roots; alternatively hosted by Britain, Australia, and the United States; discontinued in 1989 for lack of interest.
  • US beats Australia: as Princess Margaret and the Duchess of Kent looked on, Chuck McKinley becomes the first American to win Wimbledon since Tony Trabert in 1955; Australia beats US: Margaret Smith 6-3, 6-4 over Billie Jean Moffitt.
  • Rod Laver achieves Men’s Singles Grand Slam, first since Don Budge in 1938!


  • Roy Emerson embraces his opponent and fellow Aussie, Fred Stolle, to win the only major he’d never won: Wimbledon; and is declared to rival Laver as “the best amateur in the game today;” Brazilian Maria Bueno frustrates 21-year-old Margaret Smith from winning the Grand Slam (July).


  • Wimbledon women’s seesaw continues: Smith beats Bueno, 6-4, 7-5; Manuel Santana beats American Dennis Ralston to become the first Spaniard ever to win the Wimbledon championship.

    Billie Jean King


  • 22-year-old Mrs. Billie Jean (Moffitt) King takes Wimbledon from her arch-rival Bueno.
  • Court wins her seventh consecutive Australian Open, a feat never surpassed.
  • The New York Times reports a boom in indoor tennis in the city and around the country (Oct. 30).


  • Pro Tennis obtains Five-Year contract for tournaments at Madison Square Garden with plans for television broadcast (May).
  • The emergence of Australian John Newcombe: wins Wimbledon over Wilhelm Bungert of Germany; Mrs. King sweeps 3 tennis titles in England: singles, doubles, and mixed doubles; Newcombe and King repeat their Wimbledon triumphs at Forest Hills, New York, in September.
  • With tension building throughout the 1960s, the lawn tennis barons of Britain abolish the ancient distinction between professionals and amateurs, said all players could play in the 1968 Wimbledon championships: opens the door to the Open Era in tennis.


Ashe, 1968 US Open

  • The International Lawn Tennis Federation votes unanimously for open tennis.
  • Newcombe starts Tennis Academy for youth in New Braunfels, TX.
  • King becomes first American to win Wimbledon crown for a record third consecutive time; King is denied the US Open Title, however, in a defeat to Britisher Virginia Wade.
  • Watershed moment: Arthur Ashe wins the men’s singles title at Forest Hills Stadium in the first US open tennis championships; notable since he is black and an amateur. In the tournament, 17 pros were defeated by amateurs.


  • King denied fourth straight Wimbledon; Laver defeats Newcombe to win his fourth Wimbledon; Romania becomes Communist nation to send athletes to England and the United States for tennis competition.
  • Laver wins US Open Final at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, NY; gains an unprecedented second Grand Slam!



  • In a slugfest, King denied Wimbledon again – this time by Mrs. Margaret (Smith) Court: 14-12, 11-9; Newcombe wins.
  • Margaret Court wins Grand Slam at Forest Hills; men’s champion, Ken Rosewell collects largest payday for a professional to date: $160,000.


  • Billie Jean King becomes the first woman athlete in any sport to earn $100,000 in prize money in one year.
  • A new winner: Evonne Goolagong, 19 – the daughter of an Australian aboriginal sheep-shearer  – upsets Margaret Court on center court at Wimbledon; Newcombe wins again.


  • Stan Smith breaks through at Wimbledon in five sets against Ilie Nastase of Romania – who, however, prevails in the US Open Final.


  • Eastern bloc’s Czech player Jan Kodes captures Wimbledon crown.
  • King humbles a rising Chris Evert in England, who wins Wimbledon the following year along with the French and Italian championships.
  • Margaret Court becomes the first mother in the Open Era to win Australia, French, and US titles !
  • Bobby Riggs, 55, defeats Margaret Court (May)
  • Billie Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs (September).


  • Chris Evert and her rising fiancee, Jimmy Connors, help sweep all before them for American dominance of Wimbledon singles crowns.


  • Connors, 22, beats Laver, 36, in Las Vegas tournament as the torch is passed to a new generation; Evert wins at Roland Garros against a tough 18-year old Martina Navratilova.
  • In just 39 minutes, Mrs. Billie Jean King, 31, trounces Evonne Goolagong Cawley , 6-0, 6-1, to win in a blaze of glory in what she said is her last major singles tennis title, her sixth Wimbledon championship.
  • Working with the Head Sport Company since 1969, Arthur Ashe uses the first aluminum composite racket (“the Competition”) in his championship victory against “unbeatable” Jimmy Connors at Wimbledon.


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