General Gordon Lovell
Forbes
Male
South Africa
1934-02-21
Burgersdorp, Kaapstad, South Africa
2020-12-09
Johannesburg, South Africa


About

Obituary

From www.atptour.com:
https://www.atptour.com/en/news/gordon-forbes-december-2020-obituary

Remembering Gordon Forbes, Good Player, Great Writer

By Richard Evans

Gordon Forbes, who has died at his home in South Africa at 86, was a fine tennis player. But a better writer. He was, in fact, a writer of unique style and observation; a writer with the priceless gift of sprinkling stardust on the characters who inhabited his books, turning backhands and banter into tales infected with laughter.

At his side throughout most of his life, on court and off, was his doubles partner Abe Segal who died in 2016. Larger than life could have been a phrase invented for Big Abe who partnered Forbes in numerous Davis Cup battles for South Africa, twice taking their nation to the semi-finals. Together, they reached the final of Roland Garros in 1963, the same year they were Wimbledon semi-finalists. As a singles player, Forbes won the South African title in 1959 and 1961 and was runner-up four times.

Segal would probably have become a legend in the game anyway but Forbes’ descriptions of him ensured his name would live on. A sample from A Handful of Summers goes like this: “Abe was really rough and ready (when we first met). He used to wear purple T-shirts and sing The Nearness of You very loudly, with his mouth full of Chiclets […] He’d already been on one hectic, do-it-yourself tennis tour – had worked his passage on a freighter, lived on the smell of an oil rag, been mistakenly billeted in a brothel, harvested apples, befriended several surprised millionaires and once alarmed an ancient English umpire at Hurlingham by shaking his seat and implying he was blind.”

Forbes was equally, unsparingly, perceptive about himself. “Having learnt my tennis in Johannesburg at an altitude of 6,000 feet, I was a true net rusher and had only a scanty selection of ground shots, none of which were really well produced although they were better than Abe Segal’s. Rushing the net on a really slow Italian court while using the Pirelli balls of the early sixties was an eerie experience – like being in a movie, half of which was speeded up while the other half was in slow motion. I was the speeded-up part. I would come barrelling up to the net, only to arrive there far too early and have to hop about in a frenzy of suspense while my opponent (who often seemed to be Nicola Pietrangeli or Giuseppe Merlo) decided on which side to pass me. Desperate anticipatory decisions had to be made. Lobs were too frightful to contemplate and had to be blanked out of one’s mind to preserve sanity.”

Gordon’s intellect was always more powerful than his self-confidence. He was forever questioning himself as well as life itself. He thought deeply and too much. But his melancholy was always tinged with the humour that made his writing and his company so irresistible.

He became a voice that demanded attention at the Enshrinement Committee meetings for the International Tennis Hall of Fame that we attended at Wimbledon every year, sometimes offering detailed numerical studies in an effort to ascribe ranking points to candidates. He became a little fussed when some of us could not follow his Forbesian logic.

Gordon Forbes had a son, Gavin, who is a Vice-President at the International Management Group (IMG), and a daughter, Jeannie, a fine writer herself, who died far too young, from his first marriage to fellow South African player Valerie Kootzen. And then another son, Jamie, from his marriage to Frances, his second wife, who survives him.

I shall miss our earnest talks over tea in the Last Eight Club at Wimbledon, laced with sudden flashes of sardonic laughter. The rest of us will have no need to miss his writing. It will live for posterity.



Media


Archive statistics 1954 - 1971
16
342
217


Tournament wins 1963 - Southern Transvaal Championships (Amateur)
1963 - Mendoza (Amateur)
1963 - Stuttgart (ATP World Tour 250 series)
1963 - Johannesburg Invitation (Amateur)
1963 - Roland Garros Consolation (Open)
1962 - Tuscaloosa Grass Court Invitation (Amateur)
1961 - South African Championships (Grand Prix Circuit)
1960 - Wanderers Club (Amateur)
1959 - South African Championships (Grand Prix Circuit)
1958 - Commercial Open (Amateur)
1957 - Eastern Province (Open)
1957 - Wimbledon Plate (Consolation) (Open)
1957 - Western Province (Open)
1956 - Bad Neuenahr (Open)
1954 - Spa (Amateur)
1954 - Budleigh Salterton (Amateur)


Tournaments New South Wales Championships - 1971 Wimbledon - 1969 South African Championships - 1969 Wimbledon - 1968 Queens Club Tournament - 1968 South African Championships - 1967 Natal Championships - 1967 Sydney Metropolitan Grasscourt Championships - 1967 South African Championships - 1966 Southern Transvaal Championships - 1966 Natal Championships - 1966 Sydney Metropolitan Grasscourt Championships - 1966 Border Championships - 1966 Eastern Province - 1966 South African Championships - 1965 Natal Championships - 1965 Rhodesian Open - 1965 Eastern Transvaal - 1965 Border Championships - 1965 Eastern Province - 1965 South African Championships - 1964 Southern Transvaal Championships - 1964 Natal Championships - 1964 Eastern Transvaal - 1964 Johannesburg Invitation - 1964 Eastern Province - 1964 Wimbledon - 1963 Roland Garros - 1963 Queens Club Tournament - 1963 Netherlands International Championships - 1963 British Hard Court Championships - 1963 German International Championships - 1963 South African Championships - 1963 Argentina International Championships - 1963 Southern Transvaal Championships - 1963 Le Touquet July Meeting - 1963 Baden-Baden - 1963 Conde de Godo - 1963 Madrid - 1963 Stuttgart - 1963 Turkish International Championships (Turkey Open) - 1963 Orange Free State - 1963 International Championshps of the Ruhr-Area - 1963 Roland Garros Consolation - 1963 Brumana International - 1963 Border Championships - 1963 Mendoza - 1963 Johannesburg Invitation - 1963 Natal Sugar Circuit Championships - 1963 Wimbledon - 1962 Roland Garros - 1962 US Open - 1962 Newport Casino - 1962 Queens Club Tournament - 1962 Italian International Championships - 1962 Netherlands International Championships - 1962 German International Championships - 1962 South African Championships - 1962 Southampton Invitation (Long Island) - 1962 Eastern Province second edition - 1962 Gstaad - 1962 Orange Free State - 1962 Border Championships - 1962 Tuscaloosa Grass Court Invitation - 1962 Ignis International - 1962 South African Championships - 1961 South African Championships - 1960 Wanderers Club - 1960 Wimbledon - 1959 Roland Garros - 1959 Italian International Championships - 1959 British Hard Court Championships - 1959 South African Championships - 1959 Conde de Godo - 1959 Surrey - 1959 Border Championships - 1959 South African Championships - 1958 Southern Transvaal Championships - 1958 South African Exhibitions - 1958 Commercial Open - 1958 Wimbledon - 1957 Roland Garros - 1957 Irish Championships - 1957 Queens Club Tournament - 1957 Italian International Championships - 1957 British Hard Court Championships - 1957 German International Championships - 1957 South African Championships - 1957 Southern Transvaal Championships - 1957 West of England Championships - 1957 Wimbledon Plate (Consolation) - 1957 Düsseldorf International Tournament - 1957 Western Province - 1957 Köln International - 1957 Eastern Province - 1957 Wimbledon - 1956 Roland Garros - 1956 Paris International Championships - 1956 Irish Championships - 1956 Queens Club Tournament - 1956 Italian International Championships - 1956 German International Championships - 1956 South African Championships - 1956 West of England Championships - 1956 Surrey Championships - 1956 Mediterranean Championships - 1956 Essex Championships - 1956 Wiesbaden Championships - 1956 Northern Lawn Tennis Association Tournament - 1956 Napoli - 1956 Western Province - 1956 Turkish International Championships (Turkey Open) - 1956 Brumana International - 1956 Florence International - 1956 Wanderers Club - 1956 Bad Neuenahr - 1956 Border Championships - 1956 Eastern Province - 1956 Wimbledon - 1955 Roland Garros - 1955 Queens Club Tournament - 1955 British Hard Court Championships - 1955 South African Championships - 1955 Kent Championships - 1955 Southern Transvaal Championships - 1955 Wiesbaden Championships - 1955 Eastern Province second edition - 1955 Western Province - 1955 Wimbledon - 1954 British Hard Court Championships - 1954 Kent Championships - 1954 Deauville - 1954 Surrey Championships - 1954 South of England Championships - 1954 Spa - 1954 Surrey Hard Court Championships - 1954 London Hard Courts - 1954 Budleigh Salterton - 1954 Border Championships - 1954 Benalla New Years Tournament - 1954

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *