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Dodo Cheney, 98; tennis great won hundreds of titles

Dodo Cheney competed at Wimbledon in 1946.
Dodo Cheney competed at Wimbledon in 1946.Associated Press

NEW YORK — Dodo Cheney, a daughter of tennis royalty who wore lace and pearls as she rolled through generations of competitors on the way to winning 391 tennis championships in the United States, most of them after she turned 55, died last Sunday in Escondido, Calif. She was 98.

The International Tennis Hall of Fame announced her death on Tuesday.

At her induction ceremony at the Hall, in Newport, R.I., in 2004, Ms. Cheney, who played competitively well into her 80s, chose John McEnroe to be her presenter, then hit balls back and forth with him afterward.

Ms. Cheney, who was born Dorothy Bundy and acquired the nickname Dodo in childhood, was the first American to win the Australian championships, now known as the Australian Open, a feat accomplished in 1938. She was runner-up three times in women’s doubles at Grand Slam tournaments and four times in mixed doubles.

In singles, she reached four semifinals of the US championships and one semifinal Wimbledon and the French championships. She was ranked third in the United States in 1937, 1938, and 1941. Her highest world ranking was No. 6 in 1946.It was on the senior circuit where she shined the brightest. After turning 55, she competed in two or three age groups in the same year and won titles into her late 80s. Gardnar Mulloy, a male doubles specialist who turned 100 last December, is second with at least 135 national titles.

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For Ms. Cheney, tennis stardom was practically a birthright. Her mother, the former May Sutton, won the US championships in 1904 and went on to become the first American to win the women’s singles title at Wimbledon, in 1905. She won it again two years later. In 1912, she married Thomas Bundy, who won US Nationals doubles titles from 1912 to 1914.

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A refined appearance was important to Ms. Cheney. She made her own tennis outfits: a lace dress with lace sleeves, lace socks, lace wristband. When she played, she wore a pearl necklace.