Tennis: Australian great Cooper dies at 83

SYDNEY (AFP) – Eight-time Grand Slam-winning tennis player Ashley Cooper has died aged 83, Tennis Australia announced on Friday (May 22).

The former Australian, Wimbledon and US singles titleholder was part of the golden era of Australian men’s tennis in the 1950s, winning four Grand Slams singles titles and four in doubles.

Competing against fellow Australian greats Rod Laver, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall and Neale Fraser, Cooper won three of those singles Slams in 1958, when he triumphed at Wimbledon and the Australian and USA championships.

Tennis Australia said Cooper would be remembered as “a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator”.

“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.

“Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”

Eleven-time singles Slam winner Laver led the tributes following the death of man he described as a friend.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend,” Laver wrote on Twitter.

Current women’s world No. 1 and Queensland native Ashleigh Barty was among the current generation to hail Cooper’s impact on the sport.

“Thank you for everything that you have done for our sport. My thoughts are with your family and loved ones. Rest In Peace, Ashley,” Barty said on Twitter.

Cooper was a star in his home country during his heyday and his public profile rose even further when he married reigning Miss Australia Helen Wood in 1959 at a ceremony that attracted thousands of fans.

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