Related Biography: Tennis Player Gottfried Von Cramm
Gottfried Von Cramm, born on July 7, 1908, in Nettlingen, Hanover, Germany, into an aristocratic family, was one of the world's premier tennis players. Known on the court as "The Baron" for his good looks and courtesy, he won the French Cup in 1934 and 1936. Von Cramm played a total of 111 Davis Cup matches and won six German titles, the last of which, in 1948, at the age of 40.
With his tall Aryan good looks and his record as a champion, Von Cramm would have been an ideal standard bearer for the Nazi party. However, he made the courageous choice not to endorse Nazism during World War II.
Von Cramm never won at Wimbledon. In 1935 and 1936 he was runner-up to Fred Perry and in 1937 Don Budge bested him. He and Budge enjoyed a friendship and on-court rivalry that spanned many years and included the historic Davis Cup match of 1937.
Due to his defiance of the Nazi party Von Cramm was accused of homosexuality and spent most of 1938 in prison. Budge appealed to other professional athletes, gathering 25 signatures in protest.
Upon his release in May of 1939, the management of both Wimbledon and the Queens Tournament refused to allow Von Cramm to compete, being that he was a player recently released from prison and surrounded by the stigma of homosexuality. Finally, he was permitted to play and won the Queens Tournament, beating the man who would eventually win at Wimbledon. Many believe that had he been allowed to play he might have won Wimbledon.
After the war, Von Cramm began a successful cotton import business, in his native Hanover, and served as president of the Lawn Tennis Rot-Weiss in Berlin. He died in a car accident in Cairo, Egypt, in November of 1975 and was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame the next year.