Doris Hart: Tennis player who won every available Grand Slam title and once won three Wimbledon titles in a day

Her most potent weapon was the drop shot which she would hit even from behind the baseline

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The Independent Online

Doris Hart won each Grand Slam singles title at least once, and in 1951 won three Wimbledon titles in a day. She is one of only three players to have won tennis's "complete boxed set" – all possible grand slam titles; the other two are Margaret Court and Martina Navratilova, while Serena Williams needs the mixed doubles at the Australian and French Opens to join them.

Known for her crisp groundstrokes and drop-shot mastery, Hart won in 1954 and '55 at the US Championships, later the US Open, the French Open twice and Wimbledon and the Australian Open once each. She also won 29 major doubles titles and was ranked No 1 in the world in 1951.

That year she had her finest tournament at Wimbledon. She beat her friend Shirley Fry in the singles final before they joined forces to win the women's doubles. She then teamed up with Frank Sedgman to win the mixed doubles. All three matches were played on the same day because of rain delays. Hart was in the world Top 10 for a decade, beginning in 1946.

Success didn't come without adversity. Hart suffered osteomyelitis as a child that was serious enough for doctors to consider amputating her right leg. However, she began playing tennis at the age of six and went on to win 35 professional titles. "Everybody thought she had polio, because she was a little bowlegged," Fry recalled in 2004. "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."

She was born in 1925 in St Louis and grew up in Coral Gables, Florida. She attended the University of Miami, a few miles from where she had lived in recent years.

Her most potent weapon was the drop shot, which she practised endlessly as a youngster. She would hit it even from behind the baseline, floating winners just over the net. "I'd be criticised," she recalled. "I can remember losing matches, and people would come up to me and say, 'Girl, do you know how many times you missed that drop shot? If you hadn't done that, blah blah blah.' And I'd say, 'Thank you.' But I knew I had to do it. That's what would win for me."

Retiring in 1955, she worked as a teaching pro for 28 years at a club in Pompano Beach, but neck trouble forced her to give up in 1993. Later in life she shunned the professional tennis scene, though she did watch on television. In 2010 she said she had lost most of her vision.

In 2004, watching the US Open at home, Hart cringed at Serena Williams' clothes, marvelled at the smooth shot-making of Roger Federer and said she disliked the way players try to hit everything so hard: "There's really not much strategy involved. It's not that appealing to watch, I don't think."

Doris Hart, tennis player and coach: born St Louis, Missouri 20 June 1925; died Coral Gables, Florida 29 May 2015.

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