Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



Great Men of Tennis: Gottfried von Cramm 6

Posted on April 05, 2010 by Claudia Celestial Girl
Barbara Hutton

In this series we’ve talked about how tennis in the early days (late 19th and early 20th century) was a game for elite members of society. Dwight Davis, a Harvard student and tennis innovator was wealthy enough at the age of 20 to purchase from his own funds an enormous sterling silver ‘pot’ to serve as trophy for the Davis Cup. Fred Perry was the son of a leading member of the British Parliament, and self-made 1930s-style British millionaire. An exception – Don Budge was an unassuming middle class kid who learned to play tennis in a public court in Oakland California. (If you’ve never been to Oakland, it is where the docks associated with San Francisco Bay are actually located. Few would confuse Oakland, California, with … San Francisco.).

No elite athlete in tennis’ long history probably had a loftier pedigree than that of Baron Gottfried Alexander Maximilian Walter Kurt Freiherr von Cramm. He usually dropped the ‘Baron’ and the ‘von’ when interacting with his peers – asking people to call him ‘Gottfried Cramm.’ He was the third son of Baron von Cramm, a title inherited by his eldest brother, Aschwin in 1936 associated with a Saxon region of Germany in what is now the county of Lower Saxony (created by the British after WWII).

In the 1980s, the late Jack Kramer listed Von Cramm as one of the 21 greatest tennis players of all time. And Von Cramm played perhaps the greatest tennis match in history in 1937 in front of the British King at Wimbledon, representing of all things, Nazi Germany in a Davis Cup final (WWII broke out in 1939). He was devastatingly handsome, he was blond, he was athletic, he was aristocratic (ever the gentleman on court). Though he was everything the Aryan race was supposed to be (and his wins are listed next to a Nazi flag on websites such as wikipedia [see Fred Perry]), von Cramm was anything but a Nazi. Read the rest of this entry →

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