Gottfried von Cramm

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Baron Gottfried Alexander Maximilian Walter Kurt Freiherr von Cramm (July 7, 1909, Nettlingen, Hanover, Germany – November 8, 1976, Cairo, Egypt) was a great German tennis player of the 1930s. At any other time he might have been the World No. 1 player, but he had the misfortune to be the contemporary of four other marginally greater players, Ellsworth Vines, Jack Crawford, Fred Perry, and Don Budge, all whom claimed that role at one time or another throughout the 30s. Jack Kramer, the longtime promoter and great tennis player himself, wrote in his 1979 autobiography that von Cramm was one of the 21 greatest players of all time.[1]

Born into great wealth and an ancient family of aristocrats, Von Cramm was a homosexual who was persecuted by the Nazis because of his orientation but survived both the Nazis and service on the Russian front during World War II—only to be killed in a car accident in Egypt many years later. He was married twice, the second time to an American heiress and socialite, Barbara Hutton.


  1. Kramer considered the best ever to have been either Don Budge (for consistent play) or Ellsworth Vines (at the height of his game). The next four best were, chronologically, Bill Tilden, Fred Perry, Bobby Riggs, and Pancho Gonzales. After these six came the "second echelon" of Rod Laver, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Gottfried von Cramm, Ted Schroeder, Jack Crawford, Pancho Segura, Frank Sedgman, Tony Trabert, John Newcombe, Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Björn Borg, and Jimmy Connors. He felt unable to rank Henri Cochet and René Lacoste accurately but felt they were among the very best.