Brough, Louise (1923—)

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Brough, Louise (1923—)

American tennis player and four-time Wimbledon champion. Name variations: A. Louise Brough, Louise Brough Clapp. Pronunciation: Bruff. Born Althea Louise Brough in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on March 11, 1923; daughter of a wholesale grocer; educated at the University of Southern California.

Won the Wimbledon singles title (1948, 1949, 1950, 1955), the Wimbledon doubles title with Margaret Osborne du Pont (1946, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1954), and the Wimbledon mixed doubles (1946, 1947, 1948, 1950); won the British women's singles (1948, 1949, 1950); won the British women's doubles (1946), the French doubles (1946, 1947, 1949), and the U.S. doubles 12 times (1942–50, 1955–57); won the U.S. mixed doubles (1942, 1947, 1948, 1949).

After World War II, Louise Brough was an American powerhouse on national and international tennis courts. Born in Oklahoma City in 1923, she moved at age four with her divorced mother to Beverly Hills, California. Though the athletic ten-year-old found tennis a "bit too prim for her energies," Louise practiced with her brother J.P. on the public courts of Beverly Hills. She quickly lost interest, however, when an aunt forced her to wear a white school dress to the courts. At age 13, Brough again took up the sport under the tutelage of Dick Skeen, who had coached Pauline Betz . Despite an overenthusiastic mother who suffered when she lost, Brough developed a classic forehand and backhand, as well as a winning American twist serve.

A strong singles player, Brough won the Wimbledon singles championship four times and was thrice runner-up. She was also a talented doubles player. Paired with Margaret Osborne du Pont, Brough won six Wimbledon titles, twelve U.S. doubles titles, and three French titles. Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver were the only pair to approach the doubles record set by Brough-Osborne. Singles rivals as well as good friends, Brough and Osborne battled away in two of the longest final matches in major tournament history: the nationals in 1948 (which went to Osborne) and the 1949 Wimbledon (won by Brough). Billie Jean King noted that the two were as "different as topspin and slice." In mixed doubles, Louise Brough saw four triumphs at Wimbledon and was also a four-time winner in the States. From 1941 to 1950 and again from 1952 to 1960, she was ranked in the top ten.

Around 1950, Brough began having trouble throwing the ball straight up on serve and also developed a case of tennis elbow on a trip to Australia. "I'd throw the ball different places, and they'd call a foot fault on me, and I got tenser and tenser…. And then I had a great big suitcase that I carried on and off places with my right arm. I really think the suitcase had more to do with it than anything." She continued to compete long after her prime. Younger players were saddened to watch as she tossed the ball up with a "quivering hand" and caught it again and again. "I played too long," said Brough, "It's hard to give up a trip to Wimbledon." In 1967, Louise Brough was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.


King, Billie Jean, with Cynthia Starr. We Have Come a Long Way. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1988.

Markel, Robert, Nancy Brooks, and Susan Markel. For the Record: Women in Sports. NY: World Almanac Publications, 1985.

Robertson, Max, and Jack Kramer. The Encyclopedia of Tennis.

Karin Loewen Haag , Athens, Georgia