Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Biography of a Founder of Modern Tennis

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Biography of a Founder of Modern Tennis

Article excerpt

Biography of a Founder of Modern Tennis Allen M. Hornblum. American Colossus: Big Bill Tilden and the Creation of Modern Tennis. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, March 1, 2018. $39.95. ISBN: 978-0-8032-8811-9. 520pp.

Bill Tilden had a similar fame to Babe Ruth during the 1920s or the "Golden Age of Sports," when these sports were initially shaped into what they have since become. He was the first American-born player who won Wimbledon. He ranked at the top of American tennis for a decade. In addition to this game, Tilden also performed in comedies and dramas on stage and screen and published dozens of fiction and non-fiction books (including those on tennis instruction). After the luster of his career was over, in the 1940s, he was imprisoned for seven months for "an incident involving an underage boy in his car". This biography is written by Allen M. Hornblum (criminal justice administrator and professor) and John Newcombe (tennis winner of twentysix Grand Slam championships). The scandal that collapsed Tilden's reputation through the present day is recounted in the last chapter. Tilden had suffered a car crash yearlier in 1946 that brought him to emergency room. Then, in late November: "When Bill's big Packard Clipper was pulled over on Sunset Boulevard by Beverly Hills police officers, a fourteen-year-old boy was found behind the wheel of the auto, wit Bill in the passenger seat, his one arm suggestively around the boy's shoulders and the other on the boy's lap. When they asked the boy to get out of the car, they noticed four of the four buttons on his fly were undone" (383). …

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