Tennis Canada was saddened by the news of the death of former player and 1996 Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Faye Frances Mlacak (née Urban), who passed away last Wednesday, November 11, at the age of 75 from causes unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Born in Windsor, Ontario, Mlacak became an extremely accomplished singles and doubles player on the WTA Tour, winning the Canadian Open (Rogers Cup presented by National Bank) doubles title on five consecutive occasions from 1965 to 1969. Having reached the final in 1965 and 1968, Mlacak ultimately won the singles title in 1969, defeating a regular doubles partner of hers, Vicki Berner, 6-2, 6-0 in the final. In doing so, she became the last Canadian to win the title for 50 years – until Bianca Andreescu achieved the feat in 2019.
A key member of Canada’s Billie Jean King Cup team from 1966 to 1970, Mlacak regularly represented her country in both singles and doubles, and also served as player-captain. Mlacak won a bronze medal in doubles at the 1967 Pan Am Games and captured gold at the 1969 Canada Games. A quarter-finalist at the event in 1967, Mlacak competed at Wimbledon five times during her career.
Following her retirement from tennis in 1970, Mlacak went into the banking industry and worked as a trader in money markets for eight years. She also spent time as a journalist and covered racquet sports for the Toronto Telegram. Mlacak then found a new calling in education and spent more than 25 years teaching students for the TDSB.
Mlacak was recognized for her dedication to tennis when she was honoured by the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame through her induction in 1996.
“Faye’s values were intense, they were uncompromising, and they were noble,” said Faye’s husband, Willy Mlacak. “She was a person who inspired, who cared, who supported, who was wise and intelligent, sensitive yet direct. Faye was ever positive and optimistic, accomplished and capable, while modest and humble. She would lose herself, and bring those around her, into fits of overwhelming laughter. For Faye, anything worth doing, was worth doing to its fullest.”
“Faye had retired before I became involved with Canadian tennis but she went out of her way to encourage me with what we were trying to achieve with the Canadian Open Championships,” said fellow Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame inductee John Beddington, who is the former Tournament Director and Chair of Rogers Cup. “She was one of those rare human beings who, having had a successful tennis career, was determined to use her brain and empathy and went on to have two more successful careers.”
“Faye was my friend and a great mentor to me when I was a young tennis player,” said fellow Hall of Famer Marjorie Blackwood. “She exuded a powerful, positive energy that nurtured everyone around her. When I was a struggling tour player, she often counselled me with wisdom and truth, giving me a better perspective of the road ahead. I once asked Faye why she left tennis and she laughingly said she could only survive for so long on Hudson Bay blankets, hair curler sets and trophies, which were the women’s winner prizes back then. When Bianca Andreescu won the same Canadian Open title 50 years later, Faye was thrilled to see a Canadian win! A Canadian trailblazer, possessor of a world beating forehand, Faye Frances Mlacak was a true inspiration for me to follow.”
Faye Frances Mlacak is survived by her husband, Willy, her son, Conor, her daughter, Kate, and her three granddaughters.