Tennis legend Akhtar Ali, a father figure in Indian tennis, passed away here in the early hours of February 7, said a Bengal Tennis Association source. He was 81 and is survived by his son, well known tennis player Zeeshan Ali, and two daughters.
Ali had been suffering from various ailments for the last few months. He was hospitalised for a few days before being brought back home recently. He passed away at 2:30 a.m. on February 7.
Born on July 5, 1939, Ali played in eight Davis Cup ties against Pakistan, Malaysia, Iran, Mexico, Japan and Monaco between 1958 and 1964. He also captained and coached the Indian side. He has also played in the Wimbledon and French Open grand slam events.
His last ATP tour outing was against Vijay Amritraj in a clay court match in Bombay on November 11, 1974.
A fine and soft-spoken person, Ali is well known as a coach, whose coaching influenced well-known players like Vijay Amritraj, Anand Amritraj, Ramesh Krishnan, Leander Paes and Somdev Devvarman.
He was passionately involved in coaching and organising events for grassroots players throughout his life. Ali was conferred the Arjuna Award in 2000 for lifetime contribution to tennis.