Thursday, 2 September 2021
Statements by Members
Sidwell, Mr Oswald William Thomas (Bill)
[by video link] Last week we lost a gentleman, a great sportsman and a great Australian. Bill Sidwell for some time had been Australia's oldest living Davis Cup player. He was an outstanding player during the golden era of Australian tennis, reaching five grand slam doubles finals and winning the US championship with John Bromwich over George Worthington and Frank Sedgman in 1949. The war had interrupted his tennis career, but he attributed his good health to, when in service, taking a course in nutrition and learning the value of green vegetables, resulting in a lifelong love of green vegetables—and he did enjoy a long life.
The last time I saw Bill he'd just played 18 holes, which he did every Saturday and Monday. It was a very hot day, in the mid-30s, but Bill had walked the course and was having a beer before lunch. We immediately engaged in conversation about tennis as if picking up from the day before, and he did bring up some issues for me to consider. When I asked how his golf was he was modest, but he revealed that he had scored under his age. He then laughed and said, 'That's not hard when you're 99 years old.' Another revelation was that he has a beer every night before his dinner of steak, mashed potatoes and green vegetables. He thought Ellsworth Vines was the greatest player he'd ever seen but wouldn't be drawn on how his generation compared to the greats of today. Billy Sidwell was a gentle man, a sportsman and a great Australian.