Newport, RI (Sports Network) - International Tennis Hall of Fame member Gladys Heldman died at her home in New Mexico on Sunday. The women's tennis pioneer was 81.
Heldman covered and promoted women's tennis and helped pave the way for the start of the women's tour in the United States.
Her involvement in tennis began following her 1942 marriage to former U.S. junior champion Julius Heldman. In 1953, she started World Tennis Magazine, and for more than two decades, Heldman was a leading promoter for the women's game. She was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1979 on behalf of her work in the sport.
In 1970, Heldman was the key force behind the new Virginia Slims Circuit, which enabled women to compete in events that were separate from the men's tour.
Heldman's daughters Trixie and Julie held national junior rankings, and Julie captured the Italian Open in 1969 and was ranked as high as No. 5 in the world at one point.
Heldman is survived by her husband, two daughters, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
06/24 10:50:32 ET