Bill Gilmour – a great friend of the Foundation
Bill Gilmour, Men of League member #9,101, has attended more than 50 Wimbledon championships over the years. Next Monday, he and his wife Fay will fly out of Sydney on their way to attend yet another championship in south London.
Admired and respected throughout the tennis world, Bill was the triple Australian Junior Champion in 1953. He beat 1957 US open champion, Mal Anderson 6-4, 6-3 in the singles final, then paired up with Warren Woodcock to take the doubles title and with Maureen McCalman won the mixed doubles title. In the first round of the 1954 Australian Championships at Sydney’s White City, he defeated American Davis Cup captain, Bill Talbert 6-3, 8-6, 6-1. Next year he played at Wimbledon for the first time reaching round three of the singles championship. In the first round, he beat Irishman, Joe Hackett 6-0, 6-4, 6-1. In the mixed doubles with Daphne Seeney, he reached the quarter finals where they lost to number one seeds and eventual winners, Vic Seixas and Doris Hart. In the Mens Doubles, Bill partnered Ashley Cooper, who won the Australia titles in 1957 and 1958, Wimbledon 1958 and the US open 1958. For the next few years, Bill played on the world circuit with fellow Australians such as Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Merv Rose and Ashley Cooper.
In 1979, Bill began working for the International Tennis Federation. Over the years, he has refereed Davis Cup ties all around the world and also served as a Grand Slam supervisor. For many years he has also coached and is a former President of both the Australian and NSW Tennis Coaching Association.
While having lunch with Rugby League Immortal and Team of the Century Member Graeme Langlands, former Federal Senator Michael Forshaw and myself in Sylvania on Monday 29 May, Bill was asked who he believed was the greatest tennis player ever. Rod Laver and Ricardo “Pancho” Gonzales were quickly mentioned and Bill agreed that they were certainly fantastic players.
He then told us about a dinner he enjoyed in Hong Kong in 1979, with some of the world’s best players of the twentieth century. Those at the dinner Included Gonzales (won two US singles in the late 1940s), Jack Kramar (won two US opens and one Wimbledon), Bobby Riggs (won Wimbledon in 1939) Alex Olmedo (1959 Australian champion), Pancho Segura, Frank Sedgman (won two Australian opens, two US opens and Wimbledon in 1952) and Dinny Pails (won 1947 Australian open). Over the four hour dinner, everyone present agreed that at his best, Lew Hoad was the greatest ever tennis player. Hoad was born in Glebe in November 1934 and died in Spain in July 1995, aged 59. He was a strong Rugby League fan and a good friend of Immortal and Team of the Century Member, John Raper. Hoad won the 1956 Australian and French opens, as well as two Wimbledons in 1956 and 1967. Of course in 1979, Roger Federer had not been born, but it is interesting to learn that so many top players rated Hoad so highly.
Bill Gilmour, a longtime and dedicated St George fan, has been a strong supporter of the Men of League Foundation for many years and during this time he has donated two mini buses to our organisation. These have been extremely valuable allowing our wellbeing staff to transport people, as well as things like furniture and clothing.
Honorary President, Ron Coote, AM, has developed a close friendship with Bill.
“He is a kind and generous man,” emphasised Ron, “who has given back to the community for many years. He is a valued Foundation member and a close friend, who I greatly admire.
By Barry Ross