BROUGH, "LOUISE" (Althea Louise Brough)
Born 11 March 1923 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Died 03 February 2014 in Vista, California.
Married Alan Townsend Clapp (died 1999), 09 August 1958 (no children)
Height: 1.71 m (5 ft 7 in)
Nicknames: "Broughie", "Brough is Tough" was a play on her name, pronounced "Bruff".
Brough Was Tough-The Quiet Californian
4 time Wimbledon champion in 1948 to 1950 and again in 1955. This included triple crowns in 1948 and 1950.
Though born in Oklahoma she was raised on California's fast cement courts. Her parents separated when she was only 4, and Louise and her mother moved to the Los Angeles area. Attending Bevelry Hills High School, the tomboyish girl had the support of her ambitious mother and namesake aunt Louise, who often drive her to local events and then across the country for the Eastern events.
Quickly rising through the ranks, she was in the US top ten by 1941 and wouldn't leave it until 1957 except for 1951, when tennis elbow kept her out many months.
Louise exhibited the purest and strongest serve-volley game patterned after Alice Marble. Her "American Twist" serve was the best the game has ever seen. It hit the ground and quickly bounded up and high to the backhand, making the next shot, usually a volley, often an outright winner.
In 1942 the Californian went on a tear. Coming into the US Nationals she was undefeated for the year. On the verge of taking over women's tennis she came up short versus Pauline Betz 6-4 1-6 6-4. Shot for shot Brough was superior. Nerves factored into the match though, and here Brough would often suffer from periods of doubt. In what was to become a pattern Brough would seem on the verge of dominance with her biting serve and volley game. Despite 6 grand slams in singles consistently winning outside of Wimbledon eluded her.
Her legendary doubles partnership with Margaret "Ozizie" Osborne. The calmer Margaret gave a shy Brough an anchor. Nearly invincible, "Ozzie and Broughie" were only defeated a handful of times and only twice at the US Nationals, where they compiled an enviable 58-2 record and 12 out of 14 titles. Their nine consecutive titles at the US Nationals from 1942 to 1950 is a record that will likely never be beaten. It usually took Doris Hart to beat them. When asked who their toughest foe was, Louise replied, "Doris Hart, that devil", without missing a beat. Despite the passing of 50 years it was spoken with both respect and a hint of a rivalry fresh in her mind.
3rd behind Osborne and Betz in 1946, Louise broke through at last in a major to win the 1947 US Nationals. It was her only singles there. She confessed to having an instant dislike to the noise, the arrogant USTA officials and having to fight narrow passages on outside courts to get to her matches. It didn't help that she lost 4 of the 5 finals at Forest Hills. All 4 defeats were in 3 sets. The 1948 and 1954 finals were particularly galling. Brough had match points in both. Margaret, now Mrs duPont won the 48 final 4-6 6-4 15-13. In 1954
“A willowy blonde, she was quiet and diffident, but she was the killer in the left court when at play alongside duPont,-Bud Collins-from his book Modern Encyclopedia of Tennis.
Miss Brough sat firmly in the world top ten for 12 consecutive years from 1946 to 1957. In the 36 slams she entered Louise failed to make the quarters or better only 5 times. In doubles she won 21 of 32 slams, and only once couldn't make the semis.
Wimbledon was her favorite event, the quiet reverence of the crowds matching her reserved personality. During the "Brough decade" from 1946 to 1955 she hauled off more silverware than anyone at The Championships. From 1948 to 1950 Brough won 8 out of 9 titles, only coming up short in the 1949 mixed. In a longest day scenario unimaginable today, Louise played all three finals on the same day. It all started with a victory over best friend Margaret Osborne 10-8 1-6 10-8. An exhausting 39 games. Then the doubles, where Margaret and Louise bested Gussie Moran and Pat Todd 8–6 7–5. Luckily for Louise it as straight sets, but with 5 sets and 65 games behind her she was given a short rest to get back on court for the mixed with John Bromwich. Sheila Summers and Eric Sturgess took advantage of her exhaustion. They won out 9–7 9–11 7–5. Only two games short of a triple over a mind numbing 8 sets, 114 games, and over 5 hours. Her feet were so torn up she lost toenails.
The next year she returned to win the triple for the second time. Earlier in the year Brough had accepted a rare invitation to tour Australia. Her twin Aussie and Wimbledon titles in 1950 was the only year Brough won two singles majors in a year. Only the French escaped her; it's slow surface favored defense, a word alien the volley happy Louise. She would never get past the semis at the French in 4 tries.
1951 was a horrible year. Tennis elbow meant missing the rest of the year after a semifinal at Wimbledon. Though back to most of her old form by 1952, Brough faced an altered landscape. For one thing her service toss abandoned her. At times she caught tosses repeatedly in matches. Her confidence in a major weapon never fully recovered.
The second factor blocking a return to the top was Maureen Connolly. Brough was one of four women to defeat Mo in her prime, but the baseline bomber dominated the sport from late 1951 until a horse accident in 1954.
When I asked Louise what her favorite memory was she cited the 1955 Wimbledon final. Craftily slicing and dicing, she tried every trick in the book to through off the rhythm of hard hitting Beverly Fleitz. Tiring rapidly, she knew she had to win in straight sets. At a critical juncture Brough stuck out her racquet on a bullet of a passing shot. The shot just went over for a winner and took ripped the heart out of Fleitz.
At 7-5 8-6 it was Brough's 4th and last Wimbledon. How fitting that it had been a volley that secured it.
"Louise had the nearest thing to a man's game I had seen since Alice Marble", Helen Jacobs
, from Gallery of Champions
, page 69
Grand Slam titles: 35 total (6 in singles, 21 doubles, and 8 mixed)
Australian Open W (1950)
Wimbledon W (1948, 1949, 1950, 1955)
US Nationals W (1947)
Grand Slam Doubles titles
Australian Open W (1950)
French Open W (1946, 1947, 1949)
Wimbledon W (1946, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1954)
US Open W (1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1955, 1956, 1957)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles titles
Wimbledon W (1946, 1947, 1948, 1950)
US Open W (1942, 1947, 1948, 1949)
Brough was never defeated in the 22 Wightman Cup matches she participated in.
Links and Sources
Cohn, Howard. "What's Wrong With Brough?", American Lawn Tennis
, December 1949, pages 7 and 29.
Flink, Steve. "Lady Is A Champ", Tennis Week,
16 October 2002, pages 16-17 and 38-39.
Hart, Stan. Once a Champion.
1984. Chapter 19, pages 317-339.
Jacobs, Helen. Gallery of Champions
. 1948. Pages 169-180.
Rollo. Personal phone interviews by in December of 2004.
"Brough is Tough": The Louise Brough thread
Louise Brough | Sport | The Guardian
[Video clips from her Wimbledon finals]
Hedges, Martin. A Concise Dictionary of Tennis. 1978. Pages 42-43
[Thanks to Rollo for this information]