Tennis loses matriarch
By GEORGE GROSS -- Toronto Sun
She slipped away quietly, peacefully and with dignity, surrounded by her family.
Louise Brown, the grande dame of Canadian tennis, passed away last Wednesday from a brain tumour at 81.
She was the matriarch of a tennis-playing family, a member of Canada's Tennis Hall of Fame and a multiple champion. Her husband, Ross, a former president of the Ontario Lawn Tennis Association, predeceased her a year ago at age 83.
Her son, David, was a member of Canada's Davis Cup team on four occasions. His sister, Sherry, was also a talented tennis player encouraged by her mother.
Louise came from a modest family in Dunville, the daughter of a carpenter. She became involved in tennis at age 14 when her great grandfather bought her a $4 racquet at the height of the Depression. From then on, particularly after her first visit to the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club, she fell in love with the sport.
Louise won a record number of singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles in Canadian, Ontario and Quebec championships. In fact, she was a 19-time champion of the Toronto Lawn Tennis Club, won numerous Canadian titles. All of that was accomplished by this small-town girl who never had a tennis lesson.
Louise Brown dominated the Canadian tennis scene for four decades and left several men in her wake when playing in practice matches. I know, I was one of them.
In 1965, Louise, then 44, and son David competed in the U.S. Nationals, an unusual family achievement. But tennis was always a family affair in the Brown household. Their home was like a hotel for players travelling through Toronto, except that they didn't have to pay.
Louise was also the first woman to play in a Federation Cup match when the competition was inaugurated in 1963. She faced England's Christine Trueman at Wimbledon and pushed her to the limit. After that, she played several times at Wimbledon and in the U.S. Open, where she made it to the round of 16 on two occasions.
In the first Canada Games in 1969 at Halifax, Louise won a gold medal while David captured a bronze after losing to Bob Bedard, another Tennis Hall of Famer, in the semi-final.
Louise's tennis career came to a crushing end after nearly seven decades when last May a neurosurgeon discovered a large tumour in her brain.
In the ensuing months, she demonstrated in her fight against cancer the same courage she displayed on the tennis courts. In the end, she closed her eyes in the knowledge that few, if any, families impacted Ontario and Canadian tennis in general as much as hers.
And the love affair still continues, as the family has set up the Louise and Ross Brown Fund For the Development of Canadian Junior Tennis.
The memorial service for Louise will be held on Dec. 14 at 1.30 p.m., at St. John's Baptist Church in Mississauga (Cawthra and Dundas.)
Having known Louise for a long time, I'm sure she'll be looking down from a heavenly tennis court to make sure things are done to perfection.
GROSSLY ABBREVIATED: Congratulations to Doug Creighton, the beloved founding publisher of The Toronto Sun. It was Doug who instituted the paid sabbatical for Sun employees with 10 years of service, as well as profit-sharing, Christmas bonuses, performance bonuses and staff parties. Keep well for a long time, old friend ... Speaking of old friends, Colin Lorimer, past president of the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame, sent in a cheque for $125 on behalf of his wife Edie and himself for the Sun's Christmas Fund for Variety Village. We wish Colin all the best for his abdominal surgery next month at Humber River Regional Hospital ... Many thanks to Anthony Orser for his $100 donation, as well as Oshawa's Gary Crombie ($45), Bolton's Sandra Petterson ($5) and Leafs' senior vice-president Tom Anselmi ($100).