Obituary: Louise Brough Clapp


Louise Brough Clapp (USA)

Former world No. 1 and winner of 35 Grand Slam titles Louise Brough Clapp has died.

Brough Clapp, who was enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1967 in recognition of her tremendous tennis accomplishments, passed away with family around her at her home in Vista, California on 3 February following a brief illness.

Though softly spoken and understated, Brough Clapp was one of the most dominant female tennis players of the 1940s and 50s. To this day she is remembered for being one of the greatest volleyers in the history of the sport.

At the Grand Slam tournaments, Brough Clapp won a total of 35 titles – six in singles, 21 in doubles, and eight in mixed doubles. She and her contemporary Doris Hart are tied at fifth on the all-time list for winning the most major titles, behind only Margaret Court, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King, and Margaret Osborne duPont.

At the height of her career, it was rare to see a Wimbledon final without Brough Clapp competing. She appeared in 21 of the 30 finals contested at Wimbledon from 1946 through 1955 in singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles, ultimately winning 13 titles. In 1950, she achieved a rare triple – winning the titles in singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. In 2010, she travelled to Wimbledon to celebrate the 60th anniversary of this great accomplishment.

Brough Clapp partnered with Margaret Osborne duPont to form one of the sport’s most successful doubles pairings. Together, they won 20 Grand Slam titles (12 US Opens, five Wimbledon, three Roland Garros). From 1942 through 1950, Brough Clapp and duPont won nine consecutive women’s doubles titles at the US Championships, which remains the longest championship run in history in any event at any Grand Slam tournament.

In all, Brough Clapp won 13 titles at Wimbledon, 17 titles at the US Championships, three titles at the French Championships, and two titles at the Australian Championships.

She was ranked in the world’s Top 10 from 1946 through to 1957 reaching a career high of world No. 1 in 1955.

Born March 11, 1923 in Oklahoma City, Okla., Brough Clapp moved to Beverly Hills as a small child. She grew up playing tennis on the public courts at Roxbury Park, and launched her career with great success as a junior player. She won the US 18-and-under title in 1940 and 1941.

Brough Clapp was pre-deceased by her husband, Dr. A.T. Clapp. She is survived by two nieces and two nephews.