Tennis: First US woman to win Australian Open crown dead at 98

NEWPORT, United States (AFP) - Dorothy "Dodo" Cheney, the first American woman to win what is now known as the Australian Open, has died at the age of 98, the International Tennis Hall of Fame announced Wednesday.

Cheney died in Escondido, California, following a brief illness.

She was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, joining her mother May Sutton Bundy in the sporting shrine, and introduced at the induction ceremony by fellow Hall of Famer John McEnroe.

Cheney won the 1938 Australian Championships and reached the semi-finals of the other three Grand Slam events in her career, cracking the Wimbledon and French Open last four in 1946 and the US Open semi-finals in 1937, 1938, 1943 and 1944.

Cheney, a three-time Grand Slam runner-up in women's doubles and four-time runner-up in mixed doubles, was still playing select top-level events in 1967, at the age of 51.

"Dodo Cheney was one of the most prolific champions in the history of tennis and the personification of tennis truly being a lifetime sport," said US Tennis Association chairman Dave Haggerty.

"She played competitively into her 90s and her remarkable grace, singular class and competitive spirit made her one of our sport's greatest ambassadors. She will be sorely missed by the sport that she loved."