Re: Suzanne Lenglen/Elizabeth Ryan and Hazel Wightman/Helen Wills
Part III: Hazel Wightman/Helen Wills
Although they played together much less than Suzanne Lenglen and Elizabeth Ryan, the team of Hazel Wightman and Helen Wills were equally as invincible as the former pair. Hazel and Helen tended to play together only at big tournaments or in international competitions like the Wightman Cup (in 1924 and 1927) and the Olympic Games (in 1924). In addition to those two competitions, they appear to have played together on only five other occasions: in 1923, at the Pacific Coast Championships, held in their native California; at the 1924 Wimbledon tournament; at the United States Championships in 1924 and 1928; and at the 1927 edition of the Essex County Club Invitational tournament, held in Manchester, Massachusetts.
They made an interesting combination. Hazel Wightman (née Hotchkiss) was already 36 when she teamed up with the 17-year-old Helen Wills for the first time, at the 1923 Pacific Coast Championships, at that time held on hard courts in Berkeley, California, towards the end of June. Hazel was more of a volleyer than Helen, who would always be most comfortable pounding her groundstrokes from the baseline. Hazel had already won the singles title four times at the United States Championships, as well as the doubles and mixed doubles title several times, while Helen Wills was just a few weeks away from winning her first singles title at the same tournament.
In the beginning, Hazel Wightman and Helen Wills appear to have had something of a mother-daughter relationship, or at least a teacher-pupil relationship, with Hazel the keen dispenser of advice on how Helen might improve her game and Helen the willing pupil. It was a role Hazel Wightman would increasingly play with many other budding tennis champions as the years went by, and one which she clearly enjoyed.
In their first tournament together, the aforementioned 1923 Pacific Coast Championships, Hazel and Helen beat the unheralded Mrs J. Cushing and Carmen Tarilton, another local player, in the final, 6-2, 6-2. By that time Hazel Wightman had been playing in tournaments in North America for more than twenty years. She is arguably the second-best American player of the pre-World War One period, after her English-born fellow Californian May Sutton, who lead their head-to-head by a wide margin.
Since so much is known about Helen Wills’s early life and career, it is worth taking a close look at the early years of Hazel Wightman whose name remained familiar to tennis fans for decades due to the Wightman Cup, which was essentially her brainchild. The following extracts are taken from the book “The Story of Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman”, by Herbert Warren Wind.
“Hazel Hotchkiss [Wightman] was born in Healdsburg, California, [on December 20], 1886, five years after the United States Lawn Tennis Association was founded, eleven years after the All-England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club laid out its first court at Wimbledon, and thirteen years after Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, a retired British Army officer, worked out a primitive form of lawn tennis to serve the same Victorian garden-party functions as croquet and bequeathed to his baby the happily short-lived name of Sphairistike.
“Both sets of Mrs Wightman’s grandparents made the transcontinental journey to California, though their modes of travel differed. Benoni Hotchkiss, her paternal grandfather, was living in Campbellsville, Kentucky, when he decided on the spur of the moment, in the spring of 1850, to join a covered-wagon caravan that was passing through the village and looking for one more wagon to complete the train.
“William Grove, her mother’s father, and a native of Staunton, Virginia, transported his family West after the Civil War under slightly plusher conditions. The Groves journeyed by rail most of the way and carried all their belongings with them, including the old square piano. The Hotchkisses and the Groves settled on adjoining ranches along the Russian River in the Sonoma Valley, and in the best Harold Bell Wright tradition one of the Hotchkiss boys, William Joesph [born October 20, 1858], conducted a successful open-air courtship with one of the Grove girls, Emma Lucretia [born August 20, 1853]. They purchased a 1,500-acre ranch and proceeded to raise a family in an orderly manner…”
Hazel Hotchkiss had four siblings, all of them brothers, so perhaps she first developed her combative instincts within the family home. Her brothers were James Miller Hotchkiss (1881-1952; known as Miller); Homer Grove Hotchkiss (1883-1924); Marius William Hotchkiss (1884-1974); and Linville Lee Hotchkiss (1888-1962).
According to Herbert Warren Wind: “Hazel Hotchkiss was an extremely frail child, so subject to headaches that she could not attend school regularly. On the advice of the family doctor, her parents encouraged her to spend as many hours as possible outdoors, and her brothers were instructed to include her in their games. Hazel developed into a fair pole vaulter and halfback, and a stylish baseball player. In 1900, shortly after Mr Hotchkiss had moved his business offices to San Francisco and his family to Berkeley, a commutable distance across San Francisco Bay, the two middle boys, Homer and Marius, took up tennis and captured a local tournament the first year they played the game.
“In an effort to interest their sister in tennis, a suitable sport for a young lady, her brothers took her to San Rafael in the summer of 1902 to watch the Pacific Coast Championships. Hazel fell in love with tennis at her first sight of good tennis. ‘The feature match was the final between two of the famous Sutton sisters, Ethel and May, and they were mighty impressive,’ Mrs Wightman has said of that portentous day. ‘Both of them had fine forcing forehands, and May particularly could soak that ball. But what caught my fancy even more than the Suttons was the doubles match put on by the Hardy brothers, Sam and Sumner. They’d been in a class by themselves on the Pacific Coast for eight or nine years, and they were a skillful team. The way girls played singles in those days, there was no net game at all. They didn’t budge from the baseline. The ball passed over the net as many as fifty times in a rally before someone made an error or finally won the point on a placement.
“‘Doubles like Sam and Sumner Hardy played it – now that appealed to me. They were awfully quick up at the net, and even a greenhorn like myself could appreciate the precision with which they volleyed and smashed, and their split-second manoeuvres for drawing their opponents out of position and setting up the openings. I decided that afternoon that I’d go in for tennis and model my game on the Hardys’.’
“As it turned out, the gravelled yard behind the Hotchkisses’ home, where Hazel and her brothers did the bulk of their practicing since there was only one court in Berkeley, compelled them to play like the Hardys. The bounces off the gravel were so erratic that the ball had to be volleyed – that is, played before it struck the ground. It was all net play, and since the net was simply a rope strung between the house and a cluster of rosebushes, the players soon learned that if they wanted to avoid a fine patina of black-and-blue welts, they had to get their rackets in front of every ball hit at them. The brilliant anticipatory sense that later characterized Mrs Wightman’s game – and excited Wallis Myers, the English critic, to rank her alongside Suzanne Lenglen in that rare company of players whose rackets seemed to attract the ball – was born in self-defence on the gravelled back yard at 2985 Claremont Avenue.
“Berkeley’s one tennis court at the turn of the [nineteenth] century was an asphalt one belonging to the University of California. The court was open to the public, but girls were not allowed to play on it after eight in the morning. In order to bypass this regulation, Hazel and her brothers rose daily at five. A friend of Homer’s, who made the fourth for doubles, would awaken him by jerking a string that was wound around Homer’s big toe and which ran out the window and down the side of the house. Homer would then rouse Marius and Hazel. They would grab an apple from the kitchen for breakfast and eat it as they trotted the mile to the court in the ochre light of dawn.
“These workouts came to an end at six-thirty when Hazel returned home to practice the piano for an hour before heading to classes at Berkeley High School. Whenever Hazel could find no one to rally with on the gravel, she worked on her strokes by banging a ball against the wall of the Hotchkiss house, evolving increasingly complex patterns during these drills – forehand-backhand, two forehands-two backhands, three forehands-one backhand, and so on. She has always contended that solo practice against a bangboard, no matter how crude, can be the making of a tennis player…”
In time, not only Hazel, Homer and Marius, but also Miller Hotchkiss would begin to take part in local tournaments. Although her brothers would initially enjoy some success at such tournaments, they appear not to have pursued tennis as seriously as Hazel did. It is also likely that none of them were as talented as she was.
Herbert Warren Wind continues: “In December 1902, six months after she had taken up tennis, Hazel Hotchkiss entered her first tournament, the Bay Counties Women’s Doubles Championship, sponsored by the San Francisco Park Department. On the ferry across the bay she ran into a girl named Mary Radcliffe [Ratcliffe] and learned that she also was going to play in the tournament. Mary, like herself, was waiting to be assigned a doubles partner by the tournament committee. The two girls decided to team up, and although neither had previously seen each other play, they went on to win the championship without the loss of a set.
“It was a historic day in women’s tennis because of the revolutionary tactics that Hazel Hotchkiss introduced. Standing a yard and a half from the net when her opponent served, she intercepted the majority of their opponents’ drives and volleyed them for winners. She rushed forward during rallies whenever a short return provided that opening, and she stayed poised at net instead of retreating to backcourt. She followed in after her better serves, just like the Hardy brothers and her brothers did, to volley the return. These measures thoroughly demoralized her opponents, who had been brought up to think that the woman’s place was the baseline. After Mrs Wightman had showed the way, other women, notably Mary K. Browne, Eleonora Sears and Elizabeth Ryan, learned to play net, and the emancipation of the woman from the backcourt was definitely underway…
“In doubles, Hazel was unapproachable; she could win with any partner. In singles she was a degree less formidable. Her service was well placed but not too hard to handle. Her groundstrokes – when the ball is played after the bounce – were chopped and, as a result, not true attacking weapons. ‘If Hazel had stayed on the baseline, she would have been absolutely overwhelmed by a player with first-class drives,” Mrs William MacKenzie Kalt, for many years the chairman of the Women’s Ranking Committee of the United States Lawn Tennis Association, has said. ‘She had to get to the net to win, and she knew it.
“‘She couldn’t get up there behind a forcing service or drive, the way most players do it today, because she didn’t have those shots. Here’s how she got there. Two moves. First, after she had chopped a backhand or forehand deep into her opponent’s court, she could get as far up as mid-court, about halfway between the baseline and the net. That’s no-man’s-land for a tennis player. You’re easily passed down the sidelines, and most of the balls you get there land at your feet. You’re lucky if you can play a strong defensive shot. Now what Hazel could do, and she alone among the women could do it, because she could volley and half-volley nobody’s business, was to turn mid-court from a wretched defensive position into a very comfortable offensive position. Then, mind you, after she had made her volley or half-volley at mid-court, then she could get all the way to the net and put the ball away with an angled smash.’”
This attacking game proved increasingly successful for Hazel, who had been only 16 at the time she entered the 1902 Bay Counties Championships tournament. (In a best-of-five-set final, she and Mary Ratcliffe had beaten the sisters Eva and Maud Varney 6-1, 6-8, 6-4, 7-5.) In early July 1904, Hazel won the singles title at the California State Championships, held in San Rafael; in the Challenge Round she beat Miriam Edwards, the holder, 6-3, 6-1. This was one of Hazel’s first significant singles titles.
Two years later, in 1906, Hazel won the singles title at the Pacific Coast Championships, albeit in the absence of her Nemesis, May Sutton, but by this time Hazel was also winning the singles, doubles and mixed doubles at tournaments. By this time Hazel had also become a student at the University of Berkeley, from which she graduated in 1911.
In 1909, Hazel travelled “east” to compete at the United States Championships for the first time, (in those days the tournament was held in Philadelphia). That year she won not only the singles title, but also the doubles (with Edith Rotch) and the mixed doubles (with Wallace Johnson), at the time a unique debut in a major tournament. She repeated the “triple” in the following two years (at that point in time a Challenge Round still existed in the singles event).
However, Hazel’s two most impressive victories in these years are arguably her two defeats of May Sutton in singles matches. Hazel first beat May in 1910, in the final of the prestigious Ojai Valley tournament, held in California. The score was 2-6, 6-4, 6-0. This was the first time May Sutton had lost a singles match on American soil since 1899, and her first loss in singles overall since June 1907, when Charlotte Sterry had beaten her in the final of the Northern Tournament in Manchester, England.
Hazel Hotchkiss beat May Sutton for a second time in the late summer of 1911, in the final of the Niagara-on-the-Lake international tournament held on grass in Ontario, Canada. Although May Sutton at one stage led by 6-0, 5-1, she could not quite finish the match off in the second set and Hazel eventually won by the score of 0-6, 7-5 6-0.
In an interview she gave in 1974, the last year of her life, to the American journalist Barbara Klaw, Hazel Wightman (as she then was) said of her rivalry with May Sutton (later Bundy):
“Well, May Sutton and I, we were the two top ones, and I didn’t win often from her, let me see, she usually beat me. She beat me three or four times before I had a chance to win from her. She was very hard for me to play against because she was not ladylike – she was rude, she was unsportsmanlike – and it upset me.
“With May Sutton it’s awfully hard for me to criticize her at all, because she didn’t know any better. She was the youngest of four girls, and she beat them all. And she beat them because she could make them mad. It wasn’t necessary, because she could have outplayed them by using her head. She didn’t have the head – I’m not criticizing her, but she wouldn’t go to school. She no more could have analyzed a shot than a cow.
“It bothered me for quite a little while. She had a lovely figure, she had blond curly hair –I’d give anything to have curls – oh, she was a lovely-looking person… and the stamina of a horse. Strong. And determined. My game apparently was the kind that I needed a little extra practice to get warmed up, and when we’d start to rally, May wouldn’t give me a ball to hit.
“She hit them all out, you mean?
“She just didn’t give me a ball. If I picked the ball off the ground and knocked it to her –ordinary players knock it back and forth – she knocked it out of reach. She didn’t let me hit a ball. I don’t think she knew what she was doing. My idea of tennis was to give the other person a chance to practice, but as I got smarter and thought about it I realized it would be good for me to keep the ball away from her too. But I couldn’t do that. That’s not the way it should be. The umpire told her, ‘Miss Sutton, you are not supposed to delay the game.’ She said, ‘If you don’t like the way I play, I won’t play anymore.’ Imagine. Imagine!”
In 1912, this fascinating, albeit one-sided rivalry was effectively brought to an end when both Hazel Hotchkiss and May Sutton married. According to Herbert Warren Wind: “In her swing around the tournament circuit in the summer of 1911, Hazel Hotchkiss met George Wightman, a slim Bostonian who was entering his senior year at Harvard. Their engagement was announced during the visit he made to the Hotchkiss homestead in Berkeley the following winter, they were married in June , and they settled in a yellow frame house situated three flat forehands from the S.S. Pierce store at Coolidge Corner [in Brookline, Massachusetts].
“While he was not the nationally known personality his wife was, Mr Wightman was a sportsman of more than passing attainments. As a boy he had achieved a certain prominence in yachting circles by out-sailing Charles Francis Adams in several races off the resort town of Hull, and for many years he was a contender for the national championship in court tennis, the intricate ancestor of lawn tennis. Mr Wightman’s skill as a lawn tennis player did not match his love of watching good tennis and being in the company of tennis players, but he was proficient enough to team up with Mrs Wightman and carry off the mixed doubles in the 1913 Longwood Bowl tournament. After serving the customary apprenticeship as a committee workhorse – treasurer, secretary and vice-president – Mr Wightman became president of the United States Lawn Tennis Association in 1924.”
George Wightman had been born in Beavers Falls, Pennsylvania, on December 17, 1890. Together, he and Hazel would have five children: George junior (b. 1912); Virigina (b. 1916); Hazel junior (b. 1917); Dorothy (b. 1922); and William (b. 1925).
Initially, Hazel Wightman stopped playing competitive tennis, but in 1915 she lost the final match at the United States Championships to the Norwegian-born Molla Bjurstedt, who also beat Hazel in the final of that year’s United States Clay Court Championships and in the last match of the Ladies’ Longwood Open in Boston. (Molla Bjurstedt, later Mallory, replaced May Sutton Bundy as Hazel’s bête noire.) Nevertheless, in 1915, Hazel was able to win the singles title at the Pacific Coast Championships for the second time. At the same tournament she teamed with Molla Bjurstedt to win the doubles and with her husband, George, to take the mixed doubles title.
In 1917, Hazel won the singles title at the Pacific Coast Championships for the third and last time, beating the talented west coast player Helen Baker 6-8, 6-0, 6-0 in the final. Because the United States had entered World War One, most tournaments held in the United States in 1917, including the Pacific Coast Championships, were designated “patriotic tournaments”. This meant that their status was somewhat different from full championship tournaments.
In 1919, after the birth of her third child, Hazel won the singles title at the United States Indoor Championships, beating Marion Zinderstein 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the final. Together, Hazel and Marion won the doubles title. In future years Hazel would enjoy a great deal of success at this particular tournament. However, the highlight of the year 1919 for Hazel in tennis terms came in late summer at the United States Championships where she won her fourth and last singles title at that particular tournament at the age of 32.
The Challenge Round was abolished in the women’s singles event at the US Championships in that same year of 1919, so Molla Mallory, the defending champion, had to play through, but she was upset in the semi-final by Marion Zinderstein, whom Hazel then beat in the last match, 6-1, 6-2. Hazel’s most difficult match had come in the third round against Eleanor Goss, a gifted singles and doubles player, whom Hazel beat 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
With her singles win at the 1919 US Championships Hazel Wightman became the first mother to take that title, though not the first mother to win a major singles title. That distinction belongs to the Englishwoman Blanche Hillyard (née Bingley), who won the Wimbledon singles title as a mother in 1894.
Hazel Wightman continued to enjoy success in singles, double and mixed events in the following years. By the time she and Helen Wills teamed up for the first time, at the 1923 Pacific Coast Championships, Hazel’s idea of an international competition for women – an equivalent to the Davis Cup for men – was almost a reality. However, it appears that the actual staging of the first Wightman Cup event, at Forest Hills in 1923, almost took her by surprise. In an article she wrote some time afterwards, Hazel described the events leading to these inaugural matches for the International Ladies’ Trophy, as it was initially known, and the genesis of the competition itself. The following extracts are taken from that article:
“What prompted me to offer an international tennis trophy for women’s matches is a question which I have often been asked. Naturally enough, I followed with keen interest the work of the Californians in Davis Cup play – Maurice McLoughlin, Melville Long and Billy Johnston, in particular – and soon after the [First] World War the outstanding accomplishments of Suzanne Lenglen at Wimbledon and elsewhere increased the general appeal of women’s tennis to a higher degree than ever before. The agile and gifted French girl fired the imagination of English players by her phenomenal skill, and it struck me that women’s play along the lines of the Davis Cup competition would provide a new and definite objective for girls who found tennis to their liking.
“Kathleen McKane had become the leading woman of the English courts, and Helen Wills was just beginning to show signs of the power and genius which were to make her the outstanding player of two continents. The thought struck me that ably-handled meetings which brought together the chief exponents of the game in France, England and the United States would add new zest to women’s tennis. As I recall it, the trophy was offered about 1920, but there was a lack of sympathy with the idea. Some conservatives felt that such matches would arouse only casual interest; the English tennis association was not enthusiastic. When the subject was broached, the cool attitude towards the introduction of a new international trophy was made clear, but in 1923 affairs took a different turn, and that year England decided to send an official team for women’s matches.
“My first inkling of the British action came in the form of a telegram asking me if I would be able to represent the United States in matches at New York in August 1923. I was visiting my parents in Berkeley, California, at the time and rearranged my plans to come in time for the matches. The information had been forwarded that Mr Anthony Sabelli would captain the English team, which would include Miss McKane, Geraldine Beamish, Mabel Clayton and Phyllis Covell. En route to home, I discovered from a newspaper dispatch that I had been honoured with the captaincy of the first American team and that my team-mates would be Molla Mallory, Helen Wills and Eleanor Goss.
“The original idea of including France did not materialize, and perhaps the competition will continue indefinitely between the players of the two English-speaking nations, but regardless of what the future holds for the event, it is my conviction that the good fellowship and friendly rivalry engendered by these women’s matches have made them distinctly worthwhile.
“When the trophy was offered, there was no thought of using a name to designate the donor. In fact the trophy, officially, is the International Ladies’ Trophy, but it has become known as the Wightman Cup event, and I don’t suppose anything can be done about that. I do know that it is the ambition of all our American girls to win a blazer that goes to players selected to represent the United States against England, and this proves that the competition provides an incentive to our leading players.”
Excluding the war years 1940-45, the Wightman Cup competition was held every year from 1923 to 1989, alternately in the United States and Great Britain, initially on grass at Forest Hills and Wimbledon, though later at other venues in both countries (including Wales), and not just outdoors or on grass. Due to the greater quality of its players, and the greater number of them, the United States almost always won the tie and had a 51-10 lead when the competition was abolished in 1989 due to lack of public interest and the one-sided nature of the results, not to mention the existence of the Federation Cup (now the Fed Cup), established in 1963 as an international team competition for women players from any country, not just the United States and Great Britain.
In 1923, in its first year, the Wightman Cup was won by the United States; the score was 5-2. As Hazel Wightman states in the piece quoted from above, the first ever teams consisted of Molla Mallory, Helen Wills, Eleanor Goss and Hazel Wightman, with Hazel the playing captain for the United States. The British team was made up of Kathleen McKane, Geraldine Beamish, Phyllis Covell and Mabel Clayton. According to the format, the top two players would play each other once, while the number three players would play one match against each other; there would also be two doubles matches.
One of the key matches in the first tie was that between Helen Wills and Kathleen McKane. In this match Helen Wills won the first set 6-2, but Kathleen McKane had a lead of 5-2, 40-15 in the second set before Helen fought back to win it 7-5. Helen Wills always considered this match to be a key one in her early career because of the confidence it gave her; it showed her that she could fight back against another top player when she found herself in a very difficult position. Just a few weeks later Helen Wills won her first major singles title on the same court at Forest Hills, beating the defending champion Molla Mallory in the final, 6-2, 6-1.
In this first Wightman Cup tie, Hazel Wightman played doubles with Eleanor Goss, while Helen Wills teamed up with Molla Mallory. The 1924 edition of the Wightman Cup was held at Wimbledon just before that tournament got under way. It was during this second edition of the competition that Hazel Wightman and Helen Wills teamed up for the second time (after playing together at the 1923 Pacific Coast Championships).
In 1924, the British won the competition for the first time, easily defeating the United States, by six matches to one. On her debut in England, Helen Wills lost not only to Kathleen McKane, a player close to her class (the score was 6-2, 6-2 in the Englishwoman’s favour), but also to Phyllis Covell, a player not in Helen’s class (the score was 6-2, 6-4). It is clear that Helen Wills had not “found her feet” by the time the Wightman Cup competition began (neither she nor Hazel Wightman had ever played competitive tennis in Europe). However, when Hazel and Helen against Evelyn Colyer and Kathleen McKane, the former pair won easily, 6-0, 6-3.
According to the correspondent of the London, “Times”, probably Eustratius Emmanuel Mavrogordato, whose report was published in that newspaper on June 20, 1924: “The American victory was Mrs Wightman’s doing; she was always in the right place. She gave away fewer points from balls to which she got her racket than any of the other three; she was – as far as results go – as severe in her strokes as any of them, and she has the gift of hitting to the awkward place, while exposing herself to the minimum of risk.
“Her stroke is her own – made with a peculiar push of the wrist, which keeps the racket on the line of the ball, and with it she can trust herself to hit across its direction, so that it goes sharply to the sidelines. Taking her strokes and generalship together, she played the best lawn tennis seen on the two days, and it was evident that none of the spectators grudged the American captain the credit of stopping the sequence of English victories.”
At their first Wimbledon a few days later, the debutantes Helen and Hazel had mixed success. In the singles event, Hazel lost in the third round of the singles event to Suzanne Lenglen, 6-0, 6-0. This score speaks for itself, although Suzanne would retire from the tournament after nearly losing her next match, to Elizabeth Ryan in the quarter-finals.
Helen Wills fared better – it is clear that she “found her feet” between the end of the Wightman Cup and the beginning of the Wimbledon tournament. She roared through the draw, dropping only ten games in five matches on her way to the final (it must be said that her main rivals – Elizabeth Ryan, Kathleen McKane and Suzanne Lenglen – were all in the other half of the draw). Her opponent in the final, Kathleen McKane, had received a walkover in the semi-final from the ill Suzanne Lenglen, but proved that she deserved to be a finalist nevertheless.
In a fascinating encounter Helen Wills led 6-4, 4-1 and had four opportunities to lead 5-1 in the second set. However, Kathleen McKane, playing an attacking, offensive game managed to win the sixth game of the second set, as well as the next four to take that set 6-4. The momentum had changed and in the final set the Englishwoman kept pressing and took this set, too, by the score of 6-4, for a memorable 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 victory.
Kathleen McKane would be the only player to beat Helen Wills (later Moody) in a singles match at Wimbledon and, along with Molla Mallory, only one of two players to defeat Helen in a completed singles match at a major tournament, although Helen Wills Moody would default to Helen Jacobs in the final of the 1933 US Championships.
There was consolation for both Helen Wills and Hazel Wightman at the 1924 Wimbledon tournament. Playing together in a major tournament for the first time, they won the doubles title, beating Kathleen McKane and Phyllis Covell in the final, 6-4, 6-4. Luck was on the Americans’ side during this tournament because they had been due to play Suzanne Lenglen and Elizabeth Ryan, the defending champions, in the quarter-finals before Suzanne retired ill. The Lenglen/Ryan team had won the Wimbledon doubles title for the previous five years and are still the only women’s doubles team ever to do so. It is likely that Suzanne and Elizabeth would have beaten Hazel and Helen if they had played in the quarter-finals.
On July 7, 1924, the following report on the Wimbledon doubles final between Hazel and Helen and Kathleen McKane and Phyllis Covell appeared in the London “Times”:
“English expectations – well-grounded or not – were disappointed in the final of the ladies’ doubles, for Miss Wills and Miss Wightman of America beat Miss McKane and Mrs Covell without the loss of a set, and on their form of the day the losers were not ill-rewarded with their eight games.
“But no one who has seen them in their earlier matches would regard their form of the day as the best to which they can rise. It would have been inhuman to expect that best from Miss McKane after her miraculous deliverance of Friday. Unless she had been a machine she would not have turned out her best strokes in succession; and no player of her standing is less of a machine. She would not now be [singles] Champion if nine-tenths of what preoccupies the casual player were not automatic with her; but by comparison with those whom she meets and beats she appears to improvise her stroke according to the ball hit her.
“It is her strength; her well-wishers never abandon hope when she is chasing the ball that, one way or another, she will have it back. It is also her weakness; she misses the easy ball more often than the machine player. With her of all players it must be essential that she should want to play to develop the necessary concentration, and it is inconceivable that she would have wanted to play on Saturday, even with the ‘triple crown’ to be had, as many of us thought, for the taking. She did, however, play well enough to have been on the winning side if Mrs Covell had been playing her best game.
“But a dreadful thing happened to Mrs Covell; it fell upon her in the second game of the match from out of the blue. She is not new to the Centre Court. Most memories of the meeting of 1921 are dim; but there remains a clear picture of Miss Howkins standing up to Mr Tilden in ‘mixed’ and putting the ball back deftly and demurely out of the great man’s reach. She had the less reason to be nervous that in the opening game of the match – the winning of which was mainly her doing – she had shown the most delicate touch in returning the service sharply to the sideline across the forehand of the advancing server. The first two points of the second game went to the American ladies through lobs of perfect length. After that the lobs went just out, and Mrs Covell found herself serving at 40-30.
“Then the thing happened. She could not serve; it would not have mattered if the American ladies had also not been ‘off’. In after years, when Mrs Wightman’s cunning has become legendary, we shall say, when speaking of the wise ones: ‘Ah, but did you see Mrs Wightman lose that game in 1924?’ What we shall go on to say shall not be true, for the Americans did their best to win the game, but could not; they lost it – but not until Mrs Covell had made six double faults. She was obviously unhappy whenever it was her turn to serve. Afterwards, and with the knowledge that the packed stands were henceforward primarily interested in watching for the fault, the prospect of serving must have been a nightmare to her.
“Henceforward, much of the English play in the rallies was like a speech that begins with a stammer and is hurried for fear of a repetition of it. Nevertheless the home pair led 4-2. They got no more games in the set. The decisive game was probably the fifth in the next set, with the score two-all. Mrs Wightman reach 40-15; the score was brought to deuce; an English pull-up which one had been waiting for ended with Miss McKane’s missing an easy smash.
“One had been expecting that pull-up; for in the rallies the American pair were apt to fail at wide strokes which one saw without surprise returned by their opponents. Perhaps Mrs Wightman expected it, too, for she hit out to win the match before the recovery began. She had enough failures for the score to be 4-all; but then her strokes came off and the game was over. She was the least likely of the four to reach and return the more difficult strokes, but she was the most cool and drastic with the others – as cool as Miss Wills, who played imperturbably throughout.
“Miss Wills wielded the best racket of the four. Her capacity for returning the ball compensated for some lack of that knowledge of where the ball will be hit, which comes of experience in doubles. Her defence was most sound; she served hard and accurately, and she was quick to the net to kill the return to a good service.”
Much later, in “The Unforgettable Mrs Wightie”, an article she co-wrote for the “Reader’s Digest” after Hazel Wightman’s death, Helen Wills said of this 1924 Wimbledon doubles final and the coaching she had previously received from Hazel Wightman: “Blessed with a thumping ‘natural’ forehand, I learned from her to use it with greater finesse, and to anticipate an opponent’s shot by her position on the court and the position of her body [...] She taught me to rivet my attention – ‘See only the ball’ – and to stifle anger or elation as useless distractions. Much of my tennis education – and so much pure fun – came in teaming with Mrs. Wightman, a superb doubles player. After I lost my first Wimbledon singles final in 1924, she all but carried me to a share of the doubles prize. Each time I got caught out of position, because of inexperience at doubles, Mrs Wightie covered my mistake, sensing where the ball would go or spurring me on with calls that startled and delighted the crowd: ‘Up now!’ and ‘Cross over!’ and ‘Run, Helen, run!’”
After Wimbledon Hazel Wightman, Helen Wills and the rest of the American team travelled to Paris to compete in the tennis events at that year’s Olympic Games, which were held from July 13-20. The tennis events were held in Colombes, a less than ideal venue on the outskirts of Paris. The conditions and preparations were less than ideal, too. In her autobiography “Fifteen-Thirty” (first published in 1937), Helen Wills Moody, as she then was, describes as follows the venue and the scene that greeted the players on their arrival:
“On the outskirts of Paris, Colombes was a dusty manufacturing district dotted with dirty cafés and grimy buildings. What greeted the team when they first arrived and viewed the court site was a Fellini-like surrealism. In the background, where the roaring crescendos of approval would soon erupt, was a large stadium in a barren field overgrown with dry woods and stickers. Close to it, anxious for a moment in the spotlight, brawny wrestlers practised on a platform, and on a frame of rods and bars, chiselled gymnasts polished their daring feats of precision. In the foreground was the shocking sight of pyramid piles of red clay and sand – the tennis courts. [...]
“The courts were laid in time, however. It seems to be the French way to work to the last minute, and a little after, if necessary. The stands were completed, too, finally. The dressing room for the women players was a large shed with a tin roof and had a shower in it that worked on only one needle. There was much complaint about the poor arrangements. […] The courts were very good, and as the weather was hot, they became extremely fast by the end of the week. This suited my game, as I was used to the hard courts in California. I had more fun in the Olympic tournament than in any other.
“It was hard to keep your mind on the game. The gymnasts would get into extraordinary positions on the bars and stay there. When you looked up again after the end of a rally they would still be there, immobile. The tumultuous shouting of the vast crowds in the big stadium would burst out just as you were waiting to hit an overhead. [...] Everyone appeared to be in a violent state of mind. No one seemed pleased when a face was won, and pistols were being fired all the time. [...] The ball boys at the Olympic tennis were very small, and spent most of their time under the grandstands eating lemons. There was a delapidated-looking woman vendor who went through the stands crying, ‘Oranges, bananes, glaces!’ until [Richard] Norris Williams had to ask her to stop. Jean Borotra objected to her, too.”
Despite all of the distractions, Helen Wills managed to win the gold medal in the singles event relatively easily, defeating Molla Mallory on her way to the final, where she beat the Frenchwoman Diddie Vlasto 6-2, 6-2. In the doubles event, Helen and Hazel Wightman, who was captain of the women’s team, reached the final, though not without some difficulty in their penultimate match (they had had a bye and two walkovers in the previous rounds). In the semi-finals they dropped a set to the English pairing of Evelyn Colyer and Dorothy Shepherd-Barron. The final score was 6-3, 1-6, 7-5. The following report on this match appeared in the “New York Times” on July 19, 1924:
“Miss Wills and Miss Wightman lost the first three games in the final set of their match with Mrs Shepherd-Barron and Miss Colyer, and then made a fine uphill fight until they led 4-3 in games. Then the British pair, whom the Americans had been unable to drive back from the net during the second set, again resumed their sharp volleying to lead 5-4. Mrs Wightman then won her service, she and Miss Wills afterward breaking through Miss Colyer’s service. In the final game Miss Wills served with fierce speed and won a love game, sending over a hot service ace for the last point of the match.
“The American pair set the pace in the first set, but the British took the offensive and held it all through the second, banging the ball crisply away from the net. The Americans tried everything to force the Englishwomen back, but fell into errors in doing so.
“Half way in the match Miss Wills played sluggishly as she had done against Germaine Golding, but when the position became desperate toward the end it was her brilliance, added to Mrs Wightman’s steadiness, that pulled the match away from the Britons.”
Their final opponents were Kathleen McKane and Phyllis Covell. This was the third meeting between this pairing in little over a month, and once again the American pair won, though not after their closest encounter yet, 7-5, 8-6. Arthur Wallis Myers wrote the following report for “The Field” sports gazette, which was reproduced in the 1925 edition of “Ayres’ Almanack”:
“A British umpire was appointed for the ladies’ doubles final, and there was a full, if not quite a competent, staff of linesmen. But the plan of employing a loud-speaker instead of a silent scoring board, to announce the progress of the matches to the crowd was a concession to modernity which did not contribute to the serenity of the players. It reminded one of a court of justice in which the agony of prisoners is increased while the interpreter repeats in another language the observations of the judge. But this was a mild inconvenience after what competitors went through earlier in the week!
“America scored the first success of the tournament by winning the ladies’ doubles through the agency of Mrs Wightman and Miss Wills. As at Wimbledon, they met Miss McKane and Mrs Covell in the final, and here, as there, they won in two sets. But the Olympic match was much closer, and the play of a higher standard, although there was too much lobbing and too much tentative smashing to make the rallies really drastic.
“The English pair had the mortification of losing both sets after enjoying the commanding lead of 5-2 in each. It must be confessed that on each occasion they contributed to the American recovery by serious lapses, of which the most conspicuous was weak service.
“If Miss McKane was not free from double-faulting in the first set, it was Mrs Covell whose service, formerly such a valuable asset, let her side down. She lost the fourth game of the second set through two double faults and served another at a more critical stage in the eighth game in which her side was within a stroke of the set. Even when her second delivery (which was made underhand on the principle of ‘safety first’) was valid it was quite devoid of guile, and permitted both the Americans to place their returns exactly where they wanted.
“Miss Wills would make a full-blooded forehand drive at the feet of the incoming volleyer, and Mrs Wightman would use her insidious chop. Yet, despite this handicap, which proved to be serious, the English couple might have won the match if they had employed the centre of the court more judiciously.
“It seemed to me (observed ‘The Field’ correspondent) that they paid Mrs Wightman a higher compliment than, with all her great skill, she deserved. They concentrated on Miss Wills, who was not only wonderfully steady in defence, but possessed the forcing drives (which Mrs Wightman did not) to secure, at the propitious moment, an attacking position at the net. Subtle in defence as Mrs Wightman was, especially in the use of the lob, she was, after all, in a backward position, and if Mrs Covell and her partner had driven speedily in her direction, selecting the inside rather than the outside of the court, they must have drawn enough replies to make a combined volleying attack effective.
“For this error of judgment they paid the penalty, which was perhaps in excess of true justice; yet it must be remembered that this was the third occasion within a month in which they had faced the American combination. When Mrs Covell and Miss McKane defeated Mrs Wightman and Miss [Eleanor] Goss in the final of the American doubles championship at New York in 1923, the absence of a forcing drive from Mrs Wightman’s equipment had proved a decisive handicap. It is true she was in better lobbing form today than then; on the other hand, Miss Goss was volleying more decisively in America than Miss Wills in Paris.”
The Americans made a clean sweep of the tennis events at the 1924 Olympic Games, Vincent Richards winning the gold medal in the men’s singles event and, with Francis T. Hunter, the men’s doubles. The gold medal in the mixed doubles event was won by Hazel Wightman in partnership with Richard Norris Williams. In the final they beat Richards and Marian Jessup (formerly Zinderstein), 6-2, 6-3. Norris Williams, who was suffering from an Achilles tendon injury, had considered defaulting from the mixed doubles event but, characteristically, Hazel Wightman refused to give up.
According to one report, “Williams, who usually played two feet inside the baseline and hit hard and flat, couldn’t move at all [...] Williams had to stand in one spot, at the net or in the backcourt, hitting only balls he could reach in one step. He couldn’t push off. Of course at the net he was a sitting duck for lobs. Never mind, Hazel anticipating them, would pick up her skirts and dash back to cover anything over his head. […]
“Even the small, pencil-thin ball boys, who usually spent their spare time beneath the bleachers eating lemons, came out to watch the sight. And a peregrinating knot of UC Berkeley students and athletes showed up to add the school favourite ‘Oski-wow-wow’ cheer of encouragement, which must have mystified the rude audience which booed every close call. ‘All Dick could do was return the serve and then hobble to the net,’ Hazel said in a 1972 taped interview, ‘And I would take his lobs and the short chops hit to him. I don’t know how I did, but I did.’”
Years later, Norris Williams said of Hazel and the tennis events at the 1924 Olympic Games: “Most people think Hazel owes her record to her brilliant footwork and sense of anticipation. [...] But if you ask me, the greatest thing about her is the way that woman can concentrate. [...] What’s more, the officiating was the poorest I’ve ever seen. Several times, only the umpire showed up for work and line judges had to be recruited from the crowd. I was on edge the whole time, but nothing bothered Hazel – nothing at all. I don’t even think she even heard them selling those bananas.”
At the 1924 United States Championships, held in mid-August, Hazel and Helen teamed up once again and were once again invincible as a pair. They won six matches without the loss of a set, only once being taken beyond 6-4 in a set. In the final they beat the excellent combination of Eleanor Goss and Marion Jessup, 6-4, 6-3. The runners-up had won the same title together in 1918, 1919 and 1920.
Hazel Wightman and Helen Wills next teamed up at the 1927 Essex Invitational tournament, held in Manchester, Massachusetts, from July 25- 29. Between the 1924 United States Championships and the tournament in Manchester, Hazel had in 1925 given birth to her fifth and last child, a boy named William. After suffering ill health and undergoing an operation for appendicitis in 1926, Helen Wills had returned to (re)conquer the tennis world in 1927 (Suzanne Lenglen had retired from amateur play at the previous year’s Wimbledon).
Helen Wills won her first Wimbledon singles title in 1927, and would not lose another singles match for six years. Hazel won a second and last United States Indoor Championships singles title in March 1927, beating Margaret Blake 6-0, 6-4 in the final (she also won the doubles, with Marion Jessup, and the mixed with Glenn Gardner). Hazel had turned 40 the previous December.
It is not quite clear why Hazel and Helen decided to team up at the Essex Invitational tournament in the summer of 1927. Perhaps they wanted some match practice together before playing together in the Wightman Cup at Forest Hills a month or so later. They did not play together in the US Championships in 1927. Manchester, Massachusetts, was located close to Brookline, where Hazel lived, so she would not have had far to travel. They won the doubles event there easily, defeating Doris Corbiere and a Mrs W. Endicott in the final, 6-2, 6-3. In the singles final Helen Wills easily beat Helen Jacobs.
A month later, at Forest Hills, Hazel and Helen beat Kathleen Godfree (formerly McKane) and Ermyntrude Harvey in their Wightman Cup doubles match, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Hazel once again had the role of playing captain. The United States, the defending champions, won the tie 5-2. The following short report on the aforementioned doubles match, written by Bryan Field, appeared in the “New York Times” on August 14, 1927:
“In the doubles Mrs Godfree did much better and played sensationally at the net. Mrs Wightman outdid herself and Miss Wills played well. However, Mrs Godfree was applauded more than any other of the players, as most of the spectators seemed to sense that she wanted some crumb of victory after defeats at the hands of Mrs Mallory and Miss Wills.
“When the English won the second set it looked like a repetition of the doubles on the first day when the visitors came from behind to win. However, the Americans had more in reserve in the third set and the English did not appear to be as keen for points as they might have been with the cup at stake.”
Hazel Wightman and Helen Wills teamed up for what was probably the last time at the 1928 US Championships at Forest Hills. Although Hazel was nearly 42 at this time, she was still as competitive and skillful a doubles player as ever. After a bye in the first round, she and Helen Wills won four matches for the loss of just 10 ten games, 4 of them in the final, where they beat the team of Edith Cross and Anna Harper (formerly McCune), 6-2, 6-2.
Given that her powers as a doubles player were still relatively undiminished, it is somewhat unusual that Hazel and Helen never again played competitive tennis together after the 1928 US Championships. Perhaps she wanted Helen Wills, who played quite a lot of doubles and mixed doubles, to play with someone closer to Helen’s age. Certainly, Hazel Wightman continued to play doubles competitively for many years. She won the doubles event at the United States Indoor Championships with various partners in the years 1927-31, 1933 and, for the last time, ten years later, in 1943.
This last victory in the doubles event at the US Indoor Championships came with Pauline Betz, the top singles player of the time, and at a time when a world war was raging in other parts of the world (many tennis tournaments continued in the United States throughout World War II, although after the US joined the war, the quality of the men’s events in particular were affected by the absence of players serving in the armed forces). When Hazel Wightman won that last doubles title at the 1943 US Indoor Championships with Pauline Betz, Hazel was 56 years old.
As previously mentioned, the Wightman Cup was halted by Great Britain’s entry into World War Two. Hazel Wightman took the role of playing captain a total of five times (in 1923, 1923, 1927, 1929 and 1931); in addition, she had the role of captain eight other time, lastly in 1948. Naturally, she continued to follow closely the progress of the competition and lived to see the fiftieth anniversary of the first tie, in 1973.
This fiftieth anniversary tie was held, appropriately enough, in Brookline, Massachusetts, not quite on Hazel Wightman’s doorstep. Many American and British players from previous competitions were present, including the 77-year-old Kathleen Godfree. To coincide with the 1973 edition of the Wightman Cup, Hazel was presented with an honorary CBE, making her an honorary Commander of the British Empire; the ceremony took place in Washington, D.C. The American team, whose star player was the 18-year-old Chris Evert, won the tie in 1973 by five matches to two.
The top American player of the previous ten years or so, Billie Jean King, did not play in the 1973 edition of the Wightman Cup, but Hazel Wightman knew Billie Jean well, although Hazel, like Elizabeth Ryan, did not really agree with Billie Jean’s campaign for equal pay for women tennis players. In the interview she gave to Barbara Klaw in 1974, Hazel said:
“Well, I don’t think Billie Jean can do any different. Because Billie Jean has come a long way that way. I knew her when she couldn’t hit a ball. I knew her when she got beaten every time she stepped on the court, and I also saw her when she swore. I didn’t like it, and I kept telling her. I said, ‘Billie Jean, please don’t do it, don’t swear when you miss a point.’ I said, ‘Men swear, but women don’t swear.’ I said, ‘If you miss a ball, who’s to blame?’ I never could make her realize the difference between a lady out in front of four or five hundred – a thousand – people, swearing, and a man swearing.
“What about her insistence that women players get paid as much as men?
“Well, I’m all for her, and she has the right motive, although myself, I don’t believe any woman should be paid as much to play tennis as any man.
“Why is that? Do you think men are just better players?
“Well, they are stronger. They’ve got longer legs.
“In terms of the spectators, do you think people enjoy watching women’s tennis as much as they do men’s?
“People enjoy watching women’s tennis more than men’s.
“Why is that?
“Because they can understand it better. Women have naturally more grace, more rhythm, and they don’t hit the ball so hard. Therefore it isn’t so quick, so hard to watch. People can learn more from watching women play.
“But in spite of that you don’t think they should be paid as much as men?
“I’ve felt that women don’t spend as much energy, they don’t have to work as hard as men; and, well, I just have always felt that no woman is capable of earning as much money as a man tennis player. I guess maybe I haven’t thought enough about it.
“As for yourself, have you ever made any money out of tennis in any way?
“Oh, no, no, I couldn’t. But I give these women today credit for coming along. And I think Billie Jean has done a mighty good job to keep at it the way she has.”
In the same interview, Hazel was asked about what she used to wear when she first started playing tennis:
“My mother made me dimity dresses—you don’t remember dimity; dimity was a thin material—my mother sewed dresses for me with short sleeves, and they were nice-looking dresses.
“They were what I played in. They had a round neck or something. It was a full dress, a feminine dress. It would have looked much better on somebody who was more feminine-looking. Here I was, square like a horse, see.
“How long were the dresses?
“They had to be four inches from the floor.
“What did you wear with those dresses?
“I think I wore corsets. I can’t imagine. But I think I wore corsets, because how else would I have kept my stockings up? I wouldn’t have known any better. And we wore high shoes, high sneakers. Hideous-looking things!
“Did you wear a hat?
“Well, on an awfully hot day I think somebody put a hat on me. I don’t remember playing in a hat very often. Of course, I had a little longer head of hair then—though I always had poor hair—but I wore a bun, and in order to keep the bun from sliding down my neck I tied a ribbon around it. And if I was wearing a ribbon, I thought I better put a bow on it, so I’d put a bow on it. Silly; looked horrible.
“What did you play in later when it became proper to wear the skirts a little shorter?
“Well, later I played in anything I could find that would fit me, because I wasn’t a regular size. It wasn’t as if I wore a 16 or 18 or something like that. I was either nursing a baby or I’d just had a baby, so my figure was never what I’d call a nice little ladylike kind of figure. I remember I had sort of a two-piece thing one time, say in Helen Wills’s time, but I was never a fashion plate. Helen Wills wore a middy blouse, and the reason she wore a middy blouse was because of the sun on her back. She roasted if she had to stay out playing tennis for two hours, so she found a middy blouse with the collar was a great help and very respectable.
“And the skirt?
“It had a full skirt, always a little below her knees. There was no showing the waistband when you served. It was a very satisfactory dress for her, but to me I was an old married lady then, and I didn’t want to wear middy blouses. Now most of the women when I played in the East, all played in the middy blouse or some blouse with long sleeves to keep the sun off their arms. But I needed a short sleeve because the sleeve bothered me for overheads. Isn’t it strange? And yet if it hadn’t been for the fact that I had the freedom of the arm, I never would have perfected the volley.
“Did you ever wear your tennis skirts really short?
“I did get them a little shorter, but, oh, I wouldn’t wear them the way they are today. I’m almost embarrassed when I see a girl’s pants.
“Why is that? Does it seem immodest?
“To me your pants are your own. And you only wear pants just because it’s your own business, see? And a woman’s behind isn’t very pretty anyway. Of course, people don’t wear petticoats any more. But there is something about, when these people serve nowadays, seeing their pants or seeing their waistbands – it’s hideous.
“Even for tennis? Even for an active sport?
“The only time I countenance it is for skating. Skating is a different story, but in tennis it just isn’t decent. I get so mad at it!”
Hazel was also asked about what she thought of modern women players in general, and replied as follows:
“Oh, I’ve got great admiration for them all; they’re all wonderful players. So long as they’re feminine – that’s the only thing that bothers me. I think you can be a great player and still be feminine. When tennis began to get so professionalized, I will admit I had a few qualms. I have a few qualms now, and when things happen that I don’t think are too ladylike, I think, ‘Why do it? Why sink so low?’
“Such as what, Mrs. Wightman? What kind of thing has happened that you feel is unfeminine?
“I don’t want to put my finger on anything special, see, but I have been pleased that it’s avoided going low. I’m a long way from tennis now except my one foot in a tennis group here, but anything that goes on out there touches me. And I think that’s why I’ve had so much pleasure, and also why sometimes I’ve suffered.”
It is not clear what Hazel Wightman would have made of a player like Martina Navaratilova, though it is easy to imagine that she would have admired Martina’s great skill on the court. In some ways, Hazel was a woman of her era; after all, she was born in 1886. Then again, her tennis career spanned so many decades that it would be wrong to fix her in just one particular era.
Although she came from a relatively privileged background, Hazel had to make her way it was still essentially a man’s world, and she managed to succeed in a way that many people, even people who did not know her personally, admired. Clearly, she was no Billie Jean King, but, consciously or not, players like Hazel had helped pave the way for players like Billie Jean.
In later years, Hazel Wightman played senior tennis, winning several national titles in that division. She also continued to run tournaments and coach players of all ages (often doing the latter in her converted garage). Throughout the years she also housed many players in her home in Boston. In her interview with Barbara Klaw, Hazel said:
“…I’ve been running tournaments here [in Brookline] since 1923. I know practically everybody who hits a tennis ball in Massachusetts. And then the National Championships were played here in Boston – which is why I got so many titles; the only tournaments I played in [after coming to live in the East] were the Nationals, so if I happened to win them, I got the title – so I got the idea of putting up tennis players who travelled. I could remember that when I was young and travelling, I had to have some friend’s house to stay in.
“You mean in the early days the tournament committees didn’t necessarily find housing for the players?
“Oh, they had never heard of it. Well, I was using my house for players, and there were getting to be more players, so I happened to find this house. It’s bigger, and it’s just four minutes’ walk from Longwood, and that gave me the idea.
“What’s the greatest number of players you’ve ever had staying here?
"Fourteen; fourteen extra girls. I didn’t often have men, because at that time my husband and I were not living together, and I didn’t want to worry about extra men in the house. They cramped my style. [The Wightmans were divorced in 1940.] And when the pros got into it, I said I wouldn’t take any pros into my house during the tournaments. For instance, I told Maureen Connolly’s pro, I remember saying to her, ‘I’ve asked Maureen and her chaperone to stay at my house, but I can’t ask you because I don’t have any pros staying here.’ I wasn’t going to have her do something I didn’t like. I said, ‘You can come for lunch, you can come for dinner any day, but you’re not spending the night.’ That’s just me.”
In the early 1970’s, Hazel injured herself in a fall and was thereafter restricted in her movements. She died in Brookline, Massachusetts, on December 1974, fifteen days before what would have been her eighty-eighth birthday.
Last edited by newmark401; Nov 23rd, 2011 at 09:32 PM.