As tennis' first agent, Donald Dell has a wealth of insight on how far the sport has come, and how much farther it has to go. This week, the 2009 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee joined the TENNIS.com Podcast to talk about why a tour merger is necessary, how this year's Citi Open could play out, what it was like working with Arthur Ashe, and a whole lot more.
Dell is famous for so many things that it's hard to know where to begin. The American was Yale University's top player before taking his skills to the sport's most historic tournaments as an amateur. He reached a career-high ranking of No. 5 in 1961, while getting his law degree from the University of Virginia.
Off the court, Dell has worked for the Hogan & Hartson law firm, the Peace Corps and for Robert F. Kennedy, as well as ran his own company, ProServe. And even after his own playing career, Dell returned to the court to become the youngest Davis Cup captain, at 29. He led the U.S. team to victory in 1968 and '69.
Donald Dell (center) with Arthur Ashe and Stan Smith. (Photo courtesy of Alexandra Dell)
Beyond getting his athletes like Ashe and Stan Smith the best deals, Dell has been a strong proponent of growing tennis, and pushing for a more cohesive tour system. That goal hasn't changed one bit over 50-plus years.
"My objective is how do you build a bigger sport and a better sport," Dell said. "If you could combine the women and the men in one group you would have a much stronger organization."
With so much uncertainty in the world today, Dell is very sure of one fact across the board: united athletes can be more powerful than politicians.
"I think athletes, if they are organized, can be the biggest element of change of anybody because they have a platform," Dell said. "They can stand up and talk everyday and people want to cover them. I think they can be tremendous in leading change."
The views, information, and/or opinions expressed are solely those of the podcast creators and do not necessarily represent those of The Tennis Channel, Inc., its affiliates or subsidiaries.