Bill Talbert was born on September 4, 1918 in Cincinnati, Ohio. At 10-years-old, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and soon after became fixated on the non-contact sport of tennis as a teenager. Before Talberts career was kicked off, he played for the University of Cincinnati, and later became among the first class to be inducted into the Cincinnati Tennis Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1967.
Quote: I admit I had a whale of a time when I played tennis.
Now known as a famous American tennis player and administrator, Talbert has achieved many accomplishments throughout his tennis career. He ranked in the Top 10 thirteen times between 1941 and 1954; won nine Grand Slam double titles; and was a top winner out of all captains as a Davis Cup player. He was best known for playing the right side of his favorite partner, Gardnar Mulloy. Talbert and Mulloy won four of the six United States finals they reached, claiming titles in 1942, 1945, 1946 and 1948, the same year they captured the Davis Cup championship for the United States with a victory over the Australian team of Billy Sidwell and Colin Long. He also won the French doubles championship in 1950 with a fellow Cincinnatian, the 20-year-old Tony Trabert.
He was a tactician of the sport that helped him excel beyond the lifelong limitations enforced by diabetes, but eventually Talberts career as a professional tennis player came to an end. It was then that he wrote an autobiography, Playing For Life, and a history of the United States men’s singles championships, Tennis Observed, with Pete Axthelm. He also wrote The Game of Singles in Tennis and The Game of Doubles in Tennis with Bruce Old. He also served as Tournament Director of the United States Open, and in 1964, Talbert became the executive vice president of the Banknote Corporation, a financial printing firm.
After sustaining a broken pelvis and shoulder and undergoing hip-replacement surgery as a result of a mugging at a La Guardia Airport taxi stand in 1992, Talberts health was declining. Talbert, a legendary doubles champion who gained 33 national titles over six decades of tennis standing, passed away at his home in Manhattan in 1999 at age 80.