Re: Helga Schultze-Hoesl died
Newmark translated a piece on Helga. From originally published in German in the book “Tennis in Deutschland. Von den Anfängen bis 2002. Zum 100-jährigen Bestehen des Deutschen Tennis Bundes”/ “Tennis in Germany. From its Beginnings to 2002. On the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the German Tennis Association.”
Helga Hösl-Schultze – “Miss World Tennis”
By Ulrich Kaiser
“‘Hey, you, listen up,’ said the bubbly voice at the other end of the phone line, ‘I’ve written a book. It’s supposed to be a bit humorous, about my travels and so on. And about all the mistakes I make when playing tennis. It’s also got photos of me standing in strange poses, the way you’re not supposed to. But it’s also meant to encourage beginners. Why should I stop playing tennis just because I’ve got two children?! I don’t like sitting around, moaning that men have things easier – it should be all right with a little bit of organising… Oh, yes, the book! It’s supposed to be entertaining and to include a few tips for tennis players, and also for people who don’t play tennis. And I thought you might write some sort of introduction to it. You know all about it, don’t you? Anyway, I’ve no time now, we’ve got the tax inspector in the house at the moment. So, bye then!’ There was a click on the line. End of conversation.
“This conversation took part at the beginning of the 1970s, the book was entitled ‘Tennis, My Game, Your Game’, the author, whose conversation has just been quoted, was Helga Hösl. The one-way conversation quoted above could easily be described as exemplary. It was never very easy to get a word in when Helga Schultze, later Frau Hösl, was speaking. But attractive women do not have much of a problem finding patient male listeners. The Americans, who do certain things in a much easier manner, made her a sort of ‘Miss World Tennis’ in the 1960s. They even put her on the cover of a big tennis magazine with the wording ‘The loveliest player in world tennis’. [...]
“At that time she was still living at home in Hanau with her parents. They had moved there from Silesia at the end of World War Two. Her father was a junior tennis champion and sport always played an important role in the Schultze household. This is proved by the fact that an old annual published by the German Hockey Federation features Helga on the cover armed with a crozier – and with no hint of a tennis racket. Knee-length stockings, straight legs, a dark mop of curly hair, a powerful chin and a strong nose. That was how she looked back then.
“She studied a handful of languages and passed the corresponding exams. One day, when she was standing in the office of the German National Olympic Committee during the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, she amazed everybody who had only known her as a world class tennis player.
“Helga Schultze was born on February 2, 1940, in Berlin. When West Germany was being more or less rebuilt at the end of the 1950s, she had in her head everything that young girls of her age purposefully set their sights on – or what their parents suggest to them. She dutifully went to school, played hockey, golf and tennis, skied and rode horses. She was really what used to be called a ‘well-bred girl’. But there was more to her. In those days she was an example of the female tennis players who created a bridge between those ladies who had played the sport in knee-length skirts, and those who made the pleasant society sport into a modern sport for a new generation of women, a sport which was then undergoing its greatest changes on the road to professionalism.
“Pretty Fräulein Schultze from Hanau refused quite categorically to compete with her fellow female athletes where hard training sessions were concerned. ‘I’d look like a wrestler if I did. I’d be able to serve like a guy, but Ernst wouldn’t look at me anymore!’ Ernst, one should know, was Ernst Hösl, an orthodontist with a good reputation, the father of their two daughters, Michaela and Stephanie – a guy you can go fishing or drink a beer with, and spend long nights with, talking serious nonsense. He says he once saw her playing tennis and thought to himself, ‘I’m going marry her’. Sometimes it is as easy that. However, that has little relevance to this story. Things did not go so well, and the saying that opposites attract is not always true. At some point or other the marriage broke down.
“With a strong forehand and a crafty drop-shot Helga Schultze reached the top ten in the world rankings. She won half a dozen German Championships, as well as the championships of the USSR, Turkey, Iran and Egypt. She reached the semi-finals of the French Championships in Paris and (with compatriot Edda Buding) the same stage of the doubles event at Wimbledon. While a student in Lausanne, it happened that she was simultaneously ranked number one in Germany and Switzerland.
“When both of her daughters had grown up enough, she discovered the coach Drazen Humar at the Iphitos Tennis Club in Munich. Humar assured her that she was doing almost everything wrong that could be done wrong while playing tennis. This coach taught her that she could still compete with the younger players for a while longer if she wanted to. She wanted to.
“Her backhand was changed, she moved to the ball in a slightly different manner, her serve was improved, she was shown how to hit a proper volley and that a smash doesn’t have to look as if it is being hit by a child. She started to take part in tournaments again. She even won tournaments against players who had seemed to be better than her. She had once contributed to the transferral to the tennis court of the miracle undergone by German women, and now she was doing it again, although one cannot resist using the words ‘miracle housewife’ in this respect.
“So there she is, a woman with a bubbly temperament, an openness which can also shock. Was she ever really seen crying the way disappointed female sportswomen sometimes do? She did so as she travelled around the world to play tennis. She had done so, for example, with her friend Paula Stuck who was a first-class player in the 1920s and 1930s, and then a shrewd writer and journalist. Helga Hösl looked after the elderly Paula Stuck until the latter’s death. For decades she organised the VIP tournaments for the benefit of the charity SOS Children’s Villages. She has since moved away from the city by Lake Ammer and has become Frau Thaw.
“At some point or other she will be back on the telephone again and the conversation will be as refreshing as a shower.”