From The Daily Telegraph, 11 October 2016:
Tony Mottram, who has died aged 96, dominated post-war British tennis, representing his country in 56 Davis Cup matches and reaching the Wimbledon doubles final in 1947; he later became an influential coach.
The son of a leather-bicycle-seat salesman, Anthony John Mottram was born in Coventry in 1920. Tall and wiry, he showed an early talent for ball games, encouraged by his mother, a keen golfer. Although none of the family played tennis, Tony’s passion for the sport was sparked when a friend took him to play at Earlsdon Tennis Club.
Mottram first appeared at the Priory Club’s Whitsuntide international tournament at Edgbaston in 1938 at the age of 17. He was already tipped for stardom. Despite losing in Wimbledon’s Northern Qualifying event weeks later, he improved with every match.
Although World War II halted the European tournament circuit, Mottram belatedly fulfilled his promise, eventually winning the Priory tournament in 1946. He joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) early in the war and volunteered to fly.
Mottram resumed his tennis career after the war, but tournaments including Grand Slams were restricted to amateurs, with no prize money and only travel expenses paid. Lacking the private income of many of his rivals, Mottram funded his tournament play through journalism, as Observer tennis correspondent for more than a decade.
He defied widespread anti-Nazi sentiment by arguing strongly for the prohibition on German players competing at Wimbledon to be lifted. Mottram was reaching the height of his powers, his chiselled, Boy’s Own Paper good looks, attacking game and sportsmanship making him a favourite with the crowds.
In 1947, he reached the Wimbledon doubles final with the Australian Bill Sidwell but lost to the favourites Jack Kramer and Bob Falkenburg. In 1948, he was a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon, his best singles showing there, but bowed out to American No. 1 Gardnar Molloy. He also reached the fourth round of the French Open in 1947 and 1948.
By now he had fallen in love with the vivacious blonde international Joy Gannon, but both families opposed the match since she was only 20. During a tennis tour of Switzerland in 1949, however, the pair married discreetly, “almost an elopement” according to his son Buster, then presented their parents with a fait accompli.
Meanwhile, Mottram and the Surrey star Geoff Paish became the backbone of the British Davis Cup team from 1947. That year the Telegraph’s John Oliff lionised Mottram for playing “the best tennis since Perry”. He went on to win 30 out of his 56 matches.
Both men would have sons who also played internationally and when a young Christopher “Buster” Mottram played alongside Paish’s son John in the 1972 tie against France, it created a record: the first time two sons of Davis Cup team-mates had competed in the same side.
A courteous, intensely private man, who exemplified the old-fashioned virtues of modesty and restraint, Mottram coped stoically with losses from Lloyds Insurance syndicates in the late 1980s, which also affected Buster Mottram, Mark Cox and Virginia Wade.
He remained mentally sharp and tennis-mad to the end, commenting pithily on Andy Murray’s epic Davis Cup battle days before his death. He is survived by his wife Joy and their three children.
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