Until last year, Mulloy was a regular spectator at the Sony Ericsson Open pro tournament in Key Biscayne. He still watches some televised events and appreciates Roger Federer’s grace and style. But “it’s a different game,” he says of today’s pro tour.
“They take too much time between points,” says Mulloy, who always held three balls when he served, changed the face of the racket after he lost a point and never stepped on a line between points. “They bounce the ball a half-dozen times, there’s very little net play. I just don’t care for the way they play.”
Says his daughter Diane Mazzone, who resides in Chicago and often celebrates special occasions with her father: “He has always lived his life the way he wanted to live it.”
Mulloy’s discipline has included no sugar, carbonated water, coffee, tea (not even at Wimbledon) or alcohol. “I got drunk once to try it out while in college,” he now says, “and that was it.”
Mulloy’s affection for his hometown, where he attended high school (Miami High), college (University of Miami) and University of Miami Law School, has not diminished, even with Miami’s growth. “It’s a huge town now — a city,” he says.
“I like the weather,” he concedes. “I like the beaches. I liked it when it was a smaller town, but I live in a somewhat secluded place, Spring Garden, so all the traffic seems to go around it and it’s separated by the canal on one side and the river on the other.”
Mulloy was married for 55 years to Madeline Cheney Mulloy, who was a campus homecoming queen and died 20 years ago. He first met his current wife in 1957 at Wimbledon. She went on to marriages with an Irish actor and a British banker/philanthropist Sir Robert Mayer. After Mayer’s death in 1985, she reconnected with Mulloy at a veterans tennis event in Monaco and then turned up for his 90th birthday party. They were married four years ago.
While marveling at her husband’s healthy lifestyle, “Jackie,” as she is known to friends, acknowledges “he’s very stubborn. When he makes up his mind about something, that’s usually it.”
Well, not quite. Mulloy has cut down on driving in traffic, added air-conditioning units to parts of the house and has limited his number of pets (he once had three dogs and four cats and was the founder of Miami’s pet rescue unit).
But he will still awaken from a nap pondering not about all the vintage cups and trophies that fill countless cases in his house but a match that got away.
“I think about it often,” he says, “and it’s over matches I lost, the stupidity involved. And it’s always one shot that cost me the match — one point that I made a huge mistake. Just like a football game where the tide turned because of one mistake.”
But what about those 129 national titles? The memorable trips to Europe, Australia, New Zealand (one of his favorite stops) and elsewhere?
“It’s not quite that simple,” he says.