July 5, 1995 in Sports

Tennis Legend Gonzalez Dies Of Stomach Cancer

Compiled From Wire Services

Hall of Famer Pancho Gonzalez, one of the greatest and most colorful tennis champions in history, died of cancer Monday night at the age 67.

Gonzalez died at Sunrise Hospital after stomach cancer had spread throughout his body, said his brother, Ralph Gonzales.

“We had a terrific report from doctors three weeks ago,” Ralph Gonzales said Tuesday. “Everything seemed to be going so well. But a week ago Wednesday he became sick and he entered the hospital. He just deteriorated very quickly. The cancer showed up in his ribs and all over his body. At the end, he didn’t suffer much.”

A Los Angeles native, Ricardo Alonso Gonzalez came from a poor family and struggled to win acceptance in the country-club world of tennis. But he wielded one of the most effective serves in the sport’s history and won the U.S. national singles championship in 1948 at age 20, then repeated a year later.

He captured doubles titles at Wimbledon and the French Open in 1949.

In 1969, as a 41-year-old grandfather, Gonzalez won the longest singles match in Wimbledon history, beating Charlie Pasarell in 112 games - 22-24, 1-6, 16-14, 6-3, 11-9. The match, suspended because of darkness, took 5 hours, 12 minutes and lasted two days.

Gonzalez had eight children and married six times. Among his ex-wives was Andre Agassi’s older sister, Rita, and the Agassi family remained very close to him. He is survived by two brothers, four sisters and seven children.

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