Bill Tilden, who was the first American to win Wimbledon, capturing back-to-back championships in 1920 and 1921 over Australian Gerald Patterson and South African Brian Norton respectively, came to Punta Gorda in 1931 with great fanfare. He was keeping a promise to Barron Collier, owner at the time of the Hotel Charlotte Harbor, who was using sports events to attract visitors to Southwest Florida and his hotel. Tilden had helped design the courts at Collier’s hotel.
The championship amateur known as “Big Bill” began his professional tennis years at an exhibition match at the hotel in February of 1931. The new courts there were touted as the best in the state with grandstands to hold 600 people. Tilden defeated Emmett Pare of Chicago, another early tennis star who toured with Tilden as a professional. A local, S Jarvis Adams, played in a doubles match as Tilden’s partner during the event.
|Tennis Court at Hotel Charlotte Harbor|