I have followed the excellent article of Mark with great interest and was impressed by the amount of details he came up with. By the way, I’ve seen a photo of him when he was still a boy with his brother, in Vini Ruracs archive in December 2007, when I visited him in his house in Summerland, California, just couple of miles South of Santa Barbara. I opted to not select that photo, when he offered me to choose, as I never knew who were the two boys on a tennis court and at the time, as it didn’t tell me anything. Most likely that photo is lost, as Vini did not have anybody around him at the time of his death on January 4, 2013. I might have been the last person he talked to him over the phone, three days before he passed away, on January 1st 2013, wishing him Happy New Year. He sounded perfect mentally, as we spoke in Romanian. Possibly he passed away of a heart attack or a stroke. At the time of his death, he just turned 93, about two weeks earlier, in December 2012. My name is Stephan Benedict, (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
) and I had the privilege to meet first Magda in New York, in 1982, at the Boulevard Gardens Tennis Courts, on Northern Boulevard, corner of Broadway, in Woodside, Queens, presently the location of a McDonald, a Staples store and a Citibank branch. At that stage she was already aged about 63 and a little overweight, but extremely warm and generous. I met her again two years later at Shelton Rock Tennis Club, in Manhasset, Long Island, NY, where she was still working as a head-pro and where she left her tennis trophies and cups on display, under a glass cabinet. On same day she invited me to visit her apartment in a two family house in Jamaica, Queens, describing me her entire fabulous life, showing me her trophies, newspaper article clips, and her very interesting archive. On Vini’s direction, I visited the Shelton Rocks Tennis Club in 2005 and the trophies were no more on display, but stored in a basement. At his request, the Club packed all of Magda’s trophies and cups and shipped them to Vini, in California. Later on he confirmed me their receipt, but unfortunately, to my disbelief and disappointment, he took a very bad decision of throwing them away, as they were badly deteriorated, without informing me of that decision, thus never giving me a chance to convince him to keep them until I’ll visit him. The good news however was that on my trip to his home in California, in 2007, he trusted me and bestowed upon me Magda’s tennis archive. Later on I acquired, in addition to those dozens of tennis photos, 20 fabulous photos of her golfing career all taken in Palm Springs, two of them showing a trophy cup, handled to her by the former US President Dwight Eisenhower, an avid amateur golf player in the Desert area. Among other photos and clips, I discovered her autographs book, with the signatures of a host of notable tennis stars and Holywood personalities. Among them: Jack Kramer, Pancho Gonzales, Pancho Segura, Tony Mottram, John Bromwich, Geoff Brown, Tom Brown, Jack Branford, Tony Trabert, Helen Perlez, Beverly Baker, Frederic Wakeman (Bermuda), William Kraft, Violet Reams, Frank Shea, Bobie Hartshorne, Little Silver – N.g., Charlie Chaplin, Sherry Caldwell, Bob Caldwell, W.A. “Spike” Kelley, Frances Kelley, Richard B. King, Arthur Larsen, Alice Dail, Doris Popple, Roy Emerson, Rod Laver, Marie & Dale Linch, Hugh Stewart, Doris Hart, Louise Brough, Margaret Osborne DuPont, Barbara Krase, Hazel Wightman, Midge Buck, Don Budge, Perry Jones, Pat Devany, Mary Mozel (golf pro), Betty James, Daddy Leslie, Laura lou John, Shirley Fry, Derrick Barton, Rosemary Buck, Tom & Betty Denton, Nancy Monson, Vic Seixas, Bobby Riggs, William Tilden, Gardnar Mulloy, Bud Hart, Marta Barnet, Jacques Pauporte, (Frenchman), Marissa O’Brien, Jack Purcel, George Montgomery, Nancy Chaffee, Berniece Bishop, Don Mcneil, Ralph Reynolds, Charles Hary, Bill Sweeney, John Neween, Dorothy Levine, Julianna Copeland, Sophie Tucker, Jacqueline Cochran, Edgar Eisenhower, Jimmy Stewart, Jackey Charlie Corbitt, Sugey Winston, Priscilla Bernstein, Audrey Bird, Howard E. Rogers, Bernard Wolens, Drancie R. Stanton, Helen Perez, Bob Perez, Barbara Short, Alberta Rogers, Virginia W. De Yung, Dee Schutzman, Helga Golling, Earle Carroll Backe, Tom Gorman, Francesca Rowan, Buddy Rogers, the Romanians: Mady Niculescu, Jacque Vergoti, Barbu Niculescu, Nicolae Radescu (head of the government), Brutus Coste, Nina & Mircea Eliade, George Vraca (actor), Camil Petrescu (writer), Nicolae Mishu, Dr. Petru Groza (Prime Minister), Gheorghe Cobzuc, Ilie Nastase, Ion Tiriac, Sever Dron, Petre Marmureanu, Costica Tanasescu, Lucia Romanov, Virginia Ruzici, etc., and dozens of others whose signatures are unreadable. Even these signaled herewith might have misspellings, as I picked them up from hard to read signatures. Several notes: according to Vini, Magda was born Bereski in a Hungarian family in Oradea (Nagyvarad, by Hungarian name). When she moved to Bucharest in mid ‘30th, Romania was becoming more and more fascist. The government of Cuza-Goga elected in 1937 was extremely nationalistic and anti-Semitic. They didn’t last more than three months. The Iron Guard under the leadership of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, were gaining ground and momentum, until their peak of 1940, when they succeeded in sharing the leadership of the Government with the ruler of Romania, General Ion Antonescu, who decided to join Hitler during WWII. Under these circumstances, Magda changed her name from Bereski to Berescu, in order to sound more Romanian. Upon her marriage to Vini in 1940, she took his name Rurac, a small minority name in eastern Romania, called in Romanian language “lipoveni”. Regarding her defeat of Pauline Betz, the number one tennis player in the world, in the ‘40th, at Monte Carlo Tournament, she ended up winning the tournament in 1947. In the same year she beat Angelica Rozeanu, six time in a row world champion in table tennis, for the Romanian national title (there is a photo of that final in the archive). Since she defected in that year, in 1947, there is a possibility that her winning records were tampered with by the new communist regime of that time, who called her a “traitor”. It is a remarkable and unmatched achievement to beat two number one players in the world in two different sports in the same year. That record might never be achieved by anyone in the near future, at the professional level. Also, as an additional achievement, Magda Rurac defeated Hilde Krahwinkel Sperling (half German, half Danish player), in the final of the European Championship becoming in 1947, Champion of Europe. Among other outstanding performances of Magda possibly mentioned before, were two victories over Althea Gibson in the finals of two Florida tournaments, and other two victories over Shirley Fray, a former Forest Hills champion in the mid ‘50th.