Famed American tennis player (1893-1953) whose major tournament victories number in the dozens (including six consecutive years as U.S. Singles Champion). Though his reputation was tainted by a pedophilic scandal and a jail term in the 1940s, a 1950 Associated Press poll named him the greatest tennis player of the first half of the twentieth century.
Four-page autograph letter signed (ALS) “Always your Bill” on two lightly-lined 5×8 sheets, no date but postmarked October 13, 1949, to his protege, Arthur “Brat” Anderson, in full:
Dear Bratto & Marrion.
The word has just come over the air that Frank Parker has turned pro. I’m a bit surprised on the whole. That is more important to you than I think you may see at first glance. I can see it moving you up from 1953 to 51 as an outside chance for a Davis Cup job and a chance at the Championship. Only Schroeder now is a certainty for the team and only he at the present moment outclasses completely your game of today. The rest of the bunch are only a shade ahead of your potential today.
All it will need to put you up with the top flight is a bit more attack, a little better control of your defense & [?] & the job is done. If I were you, Babe, I’d really give a lot of thought to the way the situation is opening up in amateur tennis, and gain even greater determination to make the grade. Never in tennis history is the way to the top so wide and easy. By next year Talbert & Mulloy will have slipped more and as for the rest, they are all hit & miss.
Lets move our Davis Cup goal up to 1951 to shoot for. What do you say Pal? Do not anything at college, except your work, take your mind or time away from your tennis now. Really go all out for it.
I’ll finish this tomorrow but I got such a definite feeling about the situation for us. I had to write it now at once.
Greatly to my surprise & delight mail came today & I enjoyed your letter of Monday. I think against high back hand floaters you should remember the rising bounce shot & also at times, move in – volley in mid court about shoulder high do not try to kill it but play it deep & go in for a killing volley on the next point. Try it against Lozong next time. I’m glad you need that sort of practice. Don’t forget to smack hell out of his fast service at [?].
Marrion Dear…I love you both & am counting the days to Sunday. Today was long with no visit.
In fine condition. Accompanied by the original handwritten envelope, addressed in Tilden’s and signed in the return address area, “W. T. Tilden.” A lengthy letter from the controversial tennis great.
Frank Parker was a former World No. 1 American male tennis player of Polish immigrant parents who was active in the 1930s and 1940s. He won four Grand Slam singles titles as well as three doubles titles. In October 1949 Parker signed a one-year contract with Bobby Riggs to become a professional tennis player, which would make him ineligible for Davis Cup play.
The “Schroeder” referred to was Ted Schroeder who won the two most prestigious amateur tennis titles, Wimbledon and the U.S. National. He was the No. 1-ranked American player in 1942; the No. 2 for 4 consecutive years, 1946 through 1949. He played for the 1951 Davis Cup team.
“Talbert” refers to Bill Talbert, who played for the 1953 Davis Cup team.
“Mulloy” refers to Gardnar Mulloy who was a former U.S. No. 1 tennis player primarily known for playing in doubles matches with partner Billy Talbert.