Gene Scott, who served tennis for a half-century as a world-ranked player, tournament director, player agent, author and, perhaps most significant, the founder, publisher, editor and iconoclastic columnist of Tennis Week magazine, died Monday in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He was 68 and lived in New York.
His wife, Polly, said the cause of death was amyloidosis, an illness in which insoluble protein fibers accumulate in body organs and impair them.
Scott was the director of more than 200 tournaments at such diverse sites as Madison Square Garden and Moscow. He wrote 20 tennis books as well as magazine articles about the sport. He produced tennis documentaries for CBS-TV. He was a television commentator for the 1973 exhibition match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, known as the Battle of the Sexes. In 1969, he was a co-founder of the National Junior Tennis League and mentored young players like John McEnroe and Vitas Gerulaitis.
In 1974, he founded Tennis Week. When Passing Shot magazine once asked if Tennis Week had been as successful as he had hoped, he said: "Never will one fulfill all of one's dreams and goals. The reason I do Tennis Week is that we get an unbelievable amount of psychic income from positive response."
He was outspoken and unafraid to alienate the sport's bureaucracy. In an editorial in 2003, he called the traditional deuce-ad scoring system "a tedious turnoff, an example of the game's ongoing mindlessness." He said he had never understood why the US Tennis Association once made him a director at large for two years. "The process by which I was elected was something of a miracle," he said. "I thought I was probably too controversial an article to have in the chicken coop."
Tennis magazine said that his Vantage Point column had made him "the conscience of the tennis world" and that he "challenges people to think about issues, specifically what's right and wrong about the tennis business."
King told Tennis Week, "He challenged the way we look at tennis and pushed us to make the sport better for everyone."
Eugene Lytton Scott was born Dec. 28, 1937, in New York, the grandson of Dr. Eugene Sullivan, an inventor of Pyrex and the chairman and president of Corning Glass Works. He grew up in St. James on Long Island and started playing tennis at 10 on public courts.
He earned a bachelor's degree in history from Yale in 1960 and a law degree from Virginia in 1964. At Yale, he won three letters in tennis, three in hockey, two in soccer and one in lacrosse.