In the Tennis World in the 1950s, Shirley Fry-Irvin was the Queen of the Tennis Courts. Deemed as the most brilliant and the fastest player of her day, Irvin was a consistent topnotch tennis player for twelve (12) years.
Born in 1927 in Akron, Ohio, Fry played tennis competitively at a young age. Encouraged and trained by her father to excel in the sport, Fry was the youngest player ever to compete at the U.S. Nationals in 1941. Her athletic laurels never rested until she reached college, qualifying for the Wimbledon quarterfinals and French finals when she was in her junior year. She graduated from Rollins College in 1949.
While playing in Australia, Fry met Karl Irvin, a tennis umpire and Advertising executive. The two eventually married and had four children.
Fry-Irvin’s long list of career triumphs include seventeen (17) Grand Slam titles, with most number of trophies coming from playing in the Doubles category (12 wins). In addition, she won the USTA Girls’ Sportsmanship Trophy Award in 1945, an award she deserved for her consistent wins as the U.S. Girls’ 18 Champion in the Singles category in 1944, and in 1945, the Doubles category in 1943, and the Indoor Singles and Doubles the very same year.
In the 1950s, Irvin continued to stack her cabinets with more trophies as she became the U.S. Singles Champion in 1956; and the U.S. Doubles Champion from 1951 to 1954. The Wimbledon trophies were also easy victories, as Fry-Irvin became its Singles Champion in 1956; its Doubles Champion from 1951 to1953; and its Mixed Doubles Champion in 1956. The French Championships was also a conquered terrain for Irvin, as she won the Singles Championship in 1951; and the Doubles Championship from 1950 to 1953.
In the Australian Championships, she became the Singles and the Doubles Champion in 1957. In the U.S. Championships, she triumphed as the U.S. Clay Court Singles Champion in 1956; the U.S. Clay Court Doubles Champion in 1946, in 1950, and in 1956.
Shirley Fry-Irvin is most often remembered as a determined and focused player, attributes that consistently placed her in the USTA Top 10 rankings from 1944 to 1956. It was in 1956 that she occupied the top spot.
She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1970, and was awarded the distinction as the USTA Service Bowl awardee in 1987.