Alex Olmedo, Peruvian tennis star who won Wimbledon in 1959 – obituary

Alex Olmedo, the Peruvian tennis player, who has died aged 84, lit up the game in the 1950s and early 1960s with his grace and aggressive all-court game.

The first South American to win the Wimbledon singles, he controversially spearheaded America’s famous 1958 Davis Cup victory over Australia. Rated one of the world’s top two amateurs at his peak, he later coached Hollywood royalty.

Luis Alejandro Olmedo y Rodríguez was born on March 24 1936 at Arequipa, Peru, the second eldest of seven children. His father worked as a tennis groundsman and as a young boy Alex enjoyed helping him to sweep the courts and string rackets.

He showed early talent, and, aged five, began playing fanatically with a home-made racket, soon winning tournaments all over the area, beating much older boys.

After Olmedo moved to Lima in his teens, the American coach Stanley Singer advised him to train in southern California, the heartland of college tennis.

Near-penniless and with no English, he was delighted when his hometown supporters clubbed together to raise the last $700 he needed for his trip to Los Angeles. Desperate to establish himself, he did odd jobs and racket restrings and took English classes.

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