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Daphne Jessie Akhurst (1903–1933)

from Sun

Daphne Akhurst, Fairfax photo, c.1928

Daphne Akhurst, Fairfax photo, c.1928

National Library of Australia, 52243198

Daphne Akhurst (Mrs. Roy Cozens), famous tennis player, died last night under an anaesthetic, after an operation at Burwood. She leaves a son aged five months.

One could hardly credit the sad news that so charming and so universally popular a girl had passed away.

Everybody in tennis entertained the warmest regard to one of the dearest girls that ever played tennis in this or any other land.

A charming personality, her cheery, happy smile captivated all hearts from her early school days at Normanhurst to when she achieved her greatest success by reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

From the age of 13 she figured in the Tildesley Shield and school matches, and even in those early days possessed the art of getting the ball back into play no matter how it came to her, and this art stood to her in many a hard-fought match in later years. 

She was five times champion of Australia, a record held by no other Australian girl. Leading player of the only two Australian tennis teams to go abroad, she was largely responsible for the splendid records they put up.

In 1928 the team defeated England, Ireland, South Africa, France, Holland, Germany, Belgium and Hungary.

Daphne Akhurst had held scores of State and minor championships.

But she will be remembered more for her charm and splendid sportsmanship than for her achievements, great as they were.

The deepest sympathy will be felt for Roy Cozens and the Akhurst family in their great loss.

Mrs. Cozens was not yet 30 years of age, but was known everywhere by her modesty as "the Shy Lady of Wimbledon."

Tennis players and officials united to-day in deploring the death of Mrs. Cozens, and paying tributes to her wonderful personality.

Mrs. Conway: "The most beloved champion Australia has produced. The tennis world, particularly the women, both at home and abroad, will miss this popular star."

Joan Hartigan: "A marvellous friend, as well as a tennis player. Her death comes as a terrible shock."

Miss N. Hall: "As fine a character as one could ever know. Modest, even as the Australian champion, and ever ready to help the oncoming players."

Dr. McElhone: "One of the tragedies of the year. She was unquestionably the outstanding personality on the courts throughout her long reign. We will never see her superior regarding court demeanor and graciousness."

Mr. F. Peach: "I cannot speak highly enough of her. She was an absolute model, an example for all girls to fellow."

The Minister for Lands (Mr. Buttenshaw) said: "She was one of the finest girls I have known and one of the best advertisements, both on and off the court, which Australia has ever sent overseas. She could take a beating with a smile, and her death will be a personal loss to all who knew her. She was a charming girl and a wonderful tennis player."

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Citation details

'Akhurst, Daphne Jessie (1903–1933)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 June 2024.

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