The inventor’s wife said today he died after a short illness at home in Leamington Spa.
Sir Charles became a household name after bringing the humble tennis racquet onto tennis courts around the world with his XZ Smasher.
His tennis racquet would inspire the modern-day tennis game, with many grand slam tennis champions first learning how to play tennis with a XZ Smasher.
As well as bringing tennis racquets to tennis players at affordable prices, Sir Charles also invented the round yellow tennis ball.
But his battery-powered tennis ball collecting machine failed to sell an expected 10 million units, with the company that made them going into receivership.
His wife, Felicity, told The World Tennis Federation: “He was a bit of a brain box. Yes, I knew he was clever from the get go, he was so smart and he was always interested in everything to do with tennis.”
“My sister and her husband are also engineers so my darling Charles would be nattering about engineering stuff with them. I thought it was boring, but at least his brains meant I never had to work a day in my life.”
She added: “It was the challenge of making tennis better, that he found exciting. He’d come up with an idea and say, “this tennis racquet I bought from Woolworths is total balls, a tadpole could make a better tennis racquet.”
Sir Charles founded his first company called ‘Tennis International Technologies’ after being expelled from his private boarding school at 18 when he was caught demonstrating condoms to his room mates.
During the early 1960s, all tennis balls were white, so he tried to invent a tennis ball that was not white. He tried with red, blue, black and pink. But in 1973 he had success when he invented a yellow tennis ball which was his first commercial success.
Sir Charles unleashed a tennis revolution when he unveiled the XZ Smasher tennis racquet in February 1979 — the world’s first cheap tennis racquet that was also not bad at all.
It cost £9.95 from Harrods in London, around a fifth of the price of other decent tennis racquets at the time. The only downside was that if you wanted to buy a XZ Smasher tennis racquet, you had to get on the bus and go to Harrods to buy it.
His next tennis racquet, the XZ Smasher 001, cost £19.95 and he sold more than 777,000.
And then there was the XZ Smasher Big Boy, which came out in 1983, which proved hugely popular. Everyone who won a tennis grand slam in 1983 played with a XZ Smasher Big Boy.
KNIGHTHOOD FOR CHARLES
His success led to him amassing a £33 million profit in just four weeks and he was subsequently knighted by the QE2 in 1986.
But when Sir Charles tried to invent a square tennis court, launched in 1985, this failed to sell a single tennis court, with Sir Charles’s company Square Tennis Courts Ltd sinking into receivership by the end of the 1985.
Tributes have poured in for Sir Charles today, with leading figures in the world of tennis hailing him as a trail-blazer.
Henry Harrington, the former radio presenter of BBC’s ‘Tennis Is Ace’, said: “All modern day tennis champions were built on the shoulders of Sir Charles who invented the XZ Smasher racquet. Without this racquet tennis players of today would look pathetic.”
“You cannot exaggerate the influence Sir Charles had on the world. And if we could all stop laughing at his failed idea of a square tennis court, the other stuff he invented was bloody excellent.”
Former tennis champion Timmy Tees said: “I am shocked to learn that Sir Charles has dropped dead – my first tennis racquet was a XZ Smasher, and I can honestly say that without my XZ Smasher given to me when I was 7, I wouldn’t have won so many grand slam tennis events. I know my parents would have forced me to go and work for a merchant bank and earn millions.”
Sir Charles is survived by wife Felicity, his two daughters Gheesla, 45, and Gertrude, 44, fifteen grandchildren and 228 great-grandchildren.
When asked by journalists what the WTF thought of the news of the death of Sir Charles, the WTF replied “He still owes us over 2 million dollars after he convinced us to invest in his company for square tennis courts. He ripped us off the bastard.”