He was the ninth child and the fifth (and youngest) son of Isaac Hallowell Clothier and Mary Clapp Jackson.
Clothier reached the singles final of the United States Championships three times. In his first final appearance in 1904 he lost in three straight sets to compatriot Holcombe Ward. Two years later, in 1906, Clothier achieved his greatest success by emphatically beating Beals Wright in the final in three straight sets at the Newport Casino. This despite breaking his pelvic bone in a riding accident earlier that year. His last final appearance came in 1909 when he lost in five sets to William Larned who claimed his fifth singles title.
He was a member of the winning USA Davis Cup Team in 1905 and 1909 and won both his singles matches in the 1909 final against the British Isles.
Bill Clothier was elected as the first President of the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1954, holding that significant post until he retired three years later.
Together with his son, William J. Clothier II, they two won the national father-son title twice.
Clothier was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1956.
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