‘A humble champion’: Aussie tennis legend Ashley Cooper dies aged 83

May 23, 2020
Tennis great Ashley Cooper has passed away. Source: Getty and Twitter/ Craig Tiley

Australia is mourning the loss of one it’s great sporting stars, with the sad passing of tennis legend and former Wimbledon champion Ashley Cooper.

The 83-year-old, who was a four-time major singles champion and Davis Cup winner, died this week, tennis officials have confirmed, after a long battle with illness. Rod Laver led the tributes for Cooper on social media, describing him as a “wonderful champion” with a great backhand.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing,” he wrote on Twitter. “He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen and his family.”

Craig Tiley, chief executive officer of Tennis Australia, also sent his best wishes to Cooper’s family during this difficult time writing: “Vale Ashley Cooper, a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an absolute administrator. He was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our thoughts are with his wife Helen, family and wide circle of friends. He will be greatly missed.”

Meanwhile, tennis fans across the country shared their memories of the great sportsman and his impact on the game. Many complimented Cooper for his beautiful personalty, while others claimed he had a bit of attention from the girls in the younger girls, and not just for his tennis skills.

“So sad to hear of Ashley Cooper’s passing,” @Ringham7 wrote on Twitter. “Coop was a @Wimbledon champion of stature and charm and made the girls of the 1950s swoon. In the golden age of Australian tennis it was tough to make your mark but Coop succeeded. His name became a byword for sportsmanship.”

“A terrific gentleman and his enormous contribution to his beloved game through tennis Queensland and Tennis Australia his tour days was second to none, an example many involved in elite sport should follow. R.I.P. Ashley Cooper,” @followmephil commented. While @886c8dfa9a134cf added: “Sad news for tennis fans of the greats who brought tennis to the forefront. R.I.P. Ashley, may the grass courts in heaven have favourable bounces.”

Cooper first rose to fame in the 1950s, competing against tennis greats such as Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall and Neale Fraser. It didn’t take long for his talent to be recognised and he proved he was one to watch when he won three of the four grand slams in 1958. This included the Australia, Wimbledon and the US championship.

He was also a part of Australia’s 1957 Davis Cup team, which included Mal Anderson and Merv Rose, with the group beating out the US in the challenge round at Kooyong. Over the years he talent was celebrated by Aussies, even once he had given up his racket. He was honoured with the Order of Australia and was inducted into the International and Australian Tennis Halls of Fame, as well as the Queensland Sports Hall of Fame.

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