(November 25, 2014) – The International Tennis Hall of Fame announced on Tuesday the death of 2004 inductee Dorothy “Dodo” Cheney. She was 98 years old. She passed away surrounded by her family in Escondido, Calif. on November 23, following a brief illness.
Cheney first started playing as a young child and was an active competitor well into her 90s. Cheney won an extraordinary 391 gold balls – this is awarded by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to winners of its national titles, amateur or professional, junior or senior. Among her 391 national titles, Cheney was a champion numerous times in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles, across various age levels, and on all surfaces.
In 1938, Cheney became the first American woman to win the Australian Championships (now known as the Australian Open). She was a runner up three times in women’s doubles at Grand Slam tournaments and four times in mixed doubles. In addition to her Australian Championships title, Cheney reached four semifinals at the U.S. Championships and one semifinal each at Wimbledon and the French Championships.
Cheney was ranked in the world top-10 in the late 1930s through mid 1940s. She reached a career high of World No. 6 in 1946. She was the No. 3 ranked player in the United States in 1937, 1938, and 1941. She competed against peers including Hall of Famers Helen Wills Moody, Alice Marble, Sarah Palfrey Cooke, and Pauline Betz Addie, among others.
Cheney was the daughter of Wimbledon and U.S. Nationals Champion, Hall of Famer May Sutton Bundy and U.S. Nationals Doubles Champion Tom Bundy. In 2002, at age 85, Cheney and her daughter Christie Putnam won the USTA National Grass Court Super-Senior Mother Daughter Championships.
Cheney was preceded in death by her husband, Arthur. She is survived by two daughters, Christie Putnam and May Cheney; a son, Brian Cheney; eight grandchildren; and fourteen great-grandchildren.
Cheney was passionate about the development of junior tennis players. In lieu of flowers, her family has suggested gifts to the junior tennis program of one’s choice in her memory.
A private memorial service will be scheduled at a future date.
Statement from USTA Chairman, CEO and President Dave Haggerty on the passing of Dorothy “Dodo” Cheney:
“Dodo Cheney was one of the most prolific champions in the history of tennis and the personification of tennis truly being a lifetime sport. She played competitively into her 90s, and her remarkable grace, singular class and competitive spirit made her one of our sport’s greatest ambassadors. She will be sorely missed by the sport that she loved.”
A 2004 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee, Cheney was the personification of tennis as a lifetime sport. She became the first American woman to win the Australian Championships (1938) and reached the semifinals at every other major, including four such appearances at the U.S. National Championships. Cheney went on to win more than 390 USTA National titles in a career that saw her play well into her 90s. She was 98.