Australian tennis player Owen Davidson (2nd L) has died aged 79

Sydney (AFP) - Tennis legends Rod Laver and Billie Jean King led tributes Sunday to Australian player Owen Davidson, a 13-time doubles Grand Slam winner who has died aged 79.

Referred to by the ATP Tour as “the most accomplished mixed doubles male player in tennis history”, Davidson teamed with King to win eight of his major trophies.

“Owen was the only man with whom I could win the Mixed @Wimbledon,” King tweeted. “Our hearts are broken, but we find peace in the lifetime of wonderful memories we shared with our friend Davo.”

Davidson’s career spanned from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s, winning 11 mixed doubles Grand Slam crowns and two in men’s doubles.

He also wrote his name in the history books when he became the first player to win a match in the Open-era, beating John Clifton in the first round of the British Hardcourt Championships in Bournemouth in 1968.

In 1967, he became only the third player ever to earn all four major mixed doubles titles in the same year, starting in Adelaide where Davidson and compatriot Lesley Turner won their home major. The next three were earned with King.

All told, the King-Davidson duo won four Wimbledons, three US Opens and one French Open.

Arguably their greatest triumph came in the 1971 Wimbledon final when they beat the formidable team of Margaret Court and Marty Riessen in an epic, 3-6, 6-2, 15-13.

As a men’s doubles player, Davidson earned two majors – the 1972 Australian Open with Ken Rosewall and with John Newcombe at the US Open the following year.

His best singles effort was making the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1966.

“I’m saddened to learn of Owen Davidson’s passing,” fellow Australian Laver said.

“He was a fellow leftie, great sporting champion, the best in doubles, and above all, a great mate. Rest in peace Davo.”

A long-time American resident, Davidson was born in Melbourne in 1943 and died in Texas.

He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2010 with Tennis Australia chief Craig Tiley Sunday calling him “a true Aussie legend of the sport”.