30 photographs, index
Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Bobby Jones, and Bill Tilden were the legendary quartet of the “Golden Age of Sports” in the 1920s. They transformed their respective athletic disciplines and captured the imagination of a nation. The indisputable force behind the emergence of professional tennis as a popular and lucrative sport, Tilden’s on-court accomplishments are nothing short of staggering. The first American‑born player to win Wimbledon and a seven‑time winner of the U.S. singles championship, he was the number 1 ranked player for ten straight years.
A tall, flamboyant player with a striking appearance, Tilden didn’t just play; he performed with a singular style that separated him from other top athletes. Tilden was a showman off the court as well. He appeared in numerous comedies and dramas on both stage and screen and was a Renaissance man who wrote more than two dozen fiction and nonfiction books, including several successful tennis instructions books.
But Tilden had a secret—one he didn’t fully understand himself. After he left competitive tennis in the late 1940s, he faced a lurid fall from grace when he was arrested after an incident involving an underage boy in his car. Tilden served seven months in prison and later attempted to explain his questionable behavior to the public, only to be ostracized from the tennis circuit. Despite his glorious career in tennis, his final years were much constrained and lived amid considerable public shunning.
Tilden’s athletic accomplishments remain, as he is arguably the best American player ever. American Colossus is a thorough account of his life, bringing a much-needed look back at one of the world’s greatest athletes and a person whose story is as relevant as ever.