Shirley Fry Irvin

30 June, 192713 July, 2021
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Oldest Grand Slam Tennis Champion Passes at 94

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same…” Rudyard Kipling

On Tuesday, July 13, 2021, Shirley Fry Irvin, loving mother and Champion tennis player, passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 94.

Shirley was born on June 30, 1927, in Akron, OH, the 4th child of Lester and Ida Fry. She grew up during the depression and remembered hobos coming to her back door for a bite to eat, which was always provided by Ida and Lester. From a young age, Shirley was an exceptional athlete and participated in many sports including hiking, swimming, badminton and tennis. But tennis grabbed her heart. She graduated from Central High School in Akron in 1945, and went on to attend Rollins College in Winter Park, FL where she played on the tennis team, an almost un-heard of endeavor for women in that time.

The Tennis Years: Shirley’s international play began in 1948 when she was invited to travel with the Wightman Cup team “across the pond”, and competed at the French Championships and at Wimbledon. She graduated from Rollins in 1949 and began a 9 year international career that allowed her to travel and play in countries including: South America, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, Egypt, India, Great Britain, Mexico, Bermuda and Australia. And she won, a lot.

Shirley amassed 4 Grand Slam Singles Titles, and 13 Grand Slam Doubles Titles.

1951 French Championships Singles Champion 1956 Wimbledon Singles Champion 1956 U.S. Championships Singles Champion 1957 Australian Championships Singles Champion

1950, ’51, ’52, ‘53 French Doubles Champion (Doris Hart) 1951, ’52, ’53, Wimbledon Doubles Champion (Doris Hart) 1951, ’52, ’53, ’54 U.S. Championships Doubles Champion (Doris Hart) 1957 Australian Championships Double Champion (Althea Gibson) 1956 Wimbledon Mixed-Doubles Champion (Vic Seixas)

Following her retirement from tennis in 1957, Shirley wed Karl Irvin, Jr in Sydney, Australia. They had 4 children: Mark, Scott, Lori and Karen. They raised the children in West Hartford, Connecticut. Later in life Shirley moved back to Florida and enjoyed over 20 years playing golf, bocci, pool, horseshoes, bingo, wi-bowling, bridge – you name it, she played it. Always the competitor, any game called her name and made her smile.

Shirley was preceded in death by her husband Karl, mother Ida, father Lester, and siblings Byron, Robert and Evelyn. She is survived by her four children, 12 grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.

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