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The Wimbledon tournament referee Alan Mills who grew up in Formby has died aged 88

The Wimbledon tournament referee Alan Mills has died aged 88, the ATP Tour has announced.

Mills served as the All England Club’s referee from 1983 to 2005, earning the nickname ‘Rain Man’ as it was his call whether or not to suspend play during inclement weather.

Alan Mills grew up in #Formby living in Lonsdale Road and learnt to play tennis at Holy Trinity. He went to Holy Trinity Youth Club with many other Formby residents and also went to Grammar School in Waterloo. Alans brother, Brian became head of St Luke's school in Formby.

Alan married English table tennis international Jill Rook in 1960.

In a statement, the ATP described him as having “an impeccable character and integrity”.

Another former Wimbledon referee, Gerry Armstrong, said: “Alan was a great influence on myself and many officials around the world.”

“He was always helpful and encouraging during the years we worked together at Wimbledon and on the ATP Tour. It was a great honour to work alongside him in professional tennis for many decades.”

Mills had been a player and coach himself, reaching Wimbledon’s fourth round on two occasions and making the third round of the French Open twice.


Tennis Career of Alan Mills

Alan Ronald Mills CBE was an English tennis player and tournament referee for the Wimbledon tennis championships from 1983 to 2005. Although each individual tennis match was controlled by an on-court umpire, Alan Mills ran the entire tournament. However, perhaps he was most well-known because the decision to stop play in the event of rain was that of Mills, and so his face was familiar to millions of television viewers worldwide, in the corner of Centre Court, clutching his two-way radio and glancing upwards at the sky in search of rainclouds.

Mills was himself an accomplished tennis player. At the age of 17 he was the senior county champion in his home county of Lancashire, and he reached the last 16 in the men's singles at Wimbledon on two occasions. Partnering compatriot Mark Cox he reached the semifinals of the 1966 Wimbledon doubles event. Mills was also the first man in the history of the Davis Cup to win a match with the scoreline 6–0, 6–0, 6–0, completing the match against Joseph Offenheim in just 32 minutes.

Mills was the first Englishman to defeat Rod Laver in 1961 at the London Hard Court Championships when the Australian came to Britain.

In 1965, Mills won the Dutch Covered Courts Championships, defeating Roger Taylor in the semifinal and Bobby Wilson in the final.

The following year he became a professional tennis coach and played matches on the professional tour.

Mills was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1996 Birthday Honours for services to lawn tennis and promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2006 New Year Honours for services to sport.

RIP Alan Ronald Mills CBE -

6 November 1935 – 18 January 2024



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