Gene Mako, champion tennis partner of Don Budge, dies at 97

Associated Press/file 1938

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NEW YORK — Gene Mako, who teamed with Don Budge to win a pair of US and Wimbledon doubles championships and lost to him in the Forest Hills national singles final that brought Budge the first Grand Slam in tennis, died Friday in Los Angeles. He was 97.

He died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, a spokeswoman, Cara Lasala, confirmed.

Mr. Mako once seemed destined to be among the game’s biggest stars, possessing a dominating serve and a strong overhead. An injury to his right shoulder in 1936 took away his power, but Budge, already Mr. Mako’s doubles partner, encouraged him to persevere.

Mr. Mako and Budge went on to win the US men’s doubles title at Forest Hills in 1936 and ’38 and the Wimbledon doubles title in 1937 and ’38.

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