Last week when Vic Seixas and Tony Trabert bounded off the courts at White City Stadium in Sydney with the doubles victory which ended the Australians' four-year grip on the Davis Cup, the only person in the world happier about the outcome than the players themselves was their slim, smiling, crew-cut captain, William F. Talbert—who also happens to be SI's own tennis columnist. And in this issue Bill Talbert reviews for you the entire Davis Cup Challenge Round from his unique vantage point.
From a conversation I had with him not long before he left for Down Under, I'm sure that nothing in his long and distinguished tennis career could have pleased Talbert as much as this win. Although only 36, he has been playing since he was 14, has held 27 U.S. national titles, a long string of championships in other parts of the world, has been among the first 10 ranking players for 12 years in the U.S. and has played on six Davis Cup teams. But naturally enough, this is what he wanted most—to captain a winning Davis Cup team, especially after last year's close defeat.
To start playing tennis at all, Talbert first had to win another contest: against the diabetes he contracted at the age of nine. He has since become the world's best-known diabetic, not from exploiting it, but from presenting the perfect example to other victims of the disease of how it need not stand in the way of normal life, even that of a tennis champion. Through all his travels (more than half a million miles) and all his matches (more than 5,000) he has never been too busy to take time out to tell his encouraging story wherever there are diabetics to listen.
As a player, Bill Talbert owns a reputation as a smooth stylist and even-tempered performer on the courts, where frayed nerves are usually as visible as confetti in a Broadway parade. In 1953, even though the U.S. lost 3-2, Talbert won the warm respect of the Australian press with a public-relations job which the frenzied Aussie tennis fans did nothing to make easier, and was presented with a silver tray for his cooperation.
Because we got the Cup back, Bill Talbert undoubtedly enjoyed writing this week's story more than if we had lost. But it is written, as it would be in any case, with the sportsmanship and understanding of the game for which he has come to be known.
SI extends heartiest congratulations to the U.S. team and is happier than ever to have its captain as a regular contributor.