The Margaret Osborne Dupont thread - Page 4 -
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post #46 of 54 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2012, 03:39 AM Thread Starter
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Re: The Margaret Osborne Dupont thread

A webpage from the Willy Dupont trust. The facilities at Bellevue, the former estate of the Duponts, is now a state park. The tennis courts are still there just a couple of hundred feet from the manor house.

Margaret Osborne du Pont

Margaret Osborne du Pont was born on March 4, 1918. She was ranked number one in the world for women's professional tennis from 1947 to 1950. After giving birth to her son William du Pont, III in 1952, she returned to professional tennis and won nine doubles championships at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
While married to William du Pont, Jr., Osborne practiced her game at the indoor tennis court at the Bellevue estate. With her husband's help, she was able to bring the game of tennis to local northern Delaware parks and schools with instruction programs and tennis court construction projects.
Links to related documents

Correspondence, William du Pont, Jr. to Margaret Osborne du Pont, 1958

Biography, Margaret Osborne du Pont, ca. 1960 (chapter from Helen Jacob's book Gallery of Champions)

1962 Wightman Cup Report, ca. 1963

Last edited by Rollo; Oct 27th, 2012 at 03:51 AM.
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post #47 of 54 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2012, 03:49 AM Thread Starter
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Re: The Margaret Osborne Dupont thread

Helen Jacobs classic book Gallery of Champions is a who's who of the best women tennis players from the 1920s to 1940s.

Here is a link to a typewritten copy on the chapter about Margaret Dupont.

As Jacobs book came out in the late 40s it covers Dupont's career only up to 1948.
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post #48 of 54 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2012, 04:08 AM Thread Starter
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Re: The Margaret Osborne Dupont thread

Here is a brief bio from the Hagley Library of William Dupont-Margaret's husband:

William du Pont, Jr. (1896-1965), son of William du Pont and Annie Rogers Zinn du Pont, grew up on the family estate in Montpelier, Virginia.
While in his youth he developed interests in hunting, horse racing and breeding, fox hounds, and tennis and later began his lifelong career as a banker at the Delaware Trust Corporation in Wilmington, Delaware. He eventually designated Bellevue Hall in Wilmington as his primary residence.
During his adult years he became a thoroughbred horse breeder, horse track designer, foxhound breeder, and tennis enthusiast and promoter. His horse racing tracks and estates such as Fair Hill in Cecil County, Maryland, Bellevue Hall in Wilmington, Delaware, and Delaware Park, William du Pont, Jr. has made a lasting impact on the Delmarva landscape and history

The Early Years

William du Pont, Jr. was born on February 11, 1896, in Losely Park, England, to William du Pont and Annie Rogers Zinn. He lived in England with his parents until the family moved back to the United States in 1902.

From childhood, William du Pont, Jr. and his sister Marion enjoyed riding horses and raising champion fox hounds. They both grew up at the family estate in Virginia which was United States President James Madison's famous Montpelier. The family also maintained their connections in Delaware by spending time at Bellevue Hall, the estate of William du Pont, Jr.'s grandfather Henry du Pont (1812-1889).


William du Pont, Jr. married Jean Liseter Austin on January 1, 1919. The couple lived near Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, at the Rosemont estate with their four children: Jean Ellen, Evelyn Rebecca Austin, Henry Eleuthere Irenee, and John Eleuthere. The couple eventually divorced in 1941, and du Pont moved his permanent residence to his Bellevue Hall estate near Wilmington, Delaware.

In 1948, du Pont married world tennis champion Margaret Osborne. The couple had one child, William du Pont, III, born in 1952. The couple divorced in the spring of 1964.
Professionally, William du Pont, Jr. worked as a banker at the Delaware Trust Corporation his entire adult life. He put much of his efforts into real estate development, thoroughbred horse racing and breeding, and horse race track design and construction. The results of his life's work can still be found throughout the Delaware Valley.

Delaware Trust Corporation

After receiving his formal education at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, and St. Luke's School in Wayne, Pennsylvania, William du Pont, Jr. followed in his father's footsteps and became a banker.
He first served on the Board of Directors and was elected Chairman of the Board in 1923. In 1928, du Pont became the President of the Delaware Trust Corporation in Wilmington, Delaware. At the time, he was the youngest bank president in Wilmington, and he served as President of the Trust for more than thirty years.
The historic Delaware Trust Building stands on the corners of East 9th Street and North Market Street in Wilmington, Delaware. Originally constructed in 1921, it is a fine example of the Classical Revival architectural style. From July 1928 to June 1930, William du Pont, Jr. expanded the office space with an addition. The property is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


William du Pont, Jr. supported various philanthropic activities throughout the Delaware Valley. During World War II, du Pont supported local Red Cross fund drives such as a 1942 Horse Show held as an event for war relief efforts. In addition to the war relief effort, du Pont was a benefactor of various local hospitals and youth organizations such as the Wilmington Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA).

Westover Hills

Westover Hills was the first upscale suburban housing development in Wilmington, Delaware. William du Pont began the project in 1927, and, after his father's death in 1928, William du Pont, Jr. continued its development.
Specifications for the homes built in the 1920s included high-quality construction methods and modern amenities only wealthier suburban home owners could afford such as whole-house electrical wiring and large garages to accommodate the family automobiles

Bellevue Estate

Bellevue Hall served as the main residency for William du Pont, Jr. and his family. The home was originally built in the 1850s in a Gothic architectural style. William du Pont, Sr. remodeled it in the early 20th century to resemble his estate home in Montpelier, Virginia.

When William du Pont, Jr. inherited the estate from his father, he continued to add buildings and facilities to the estate. Additions such as indoor tennis courts, swimming pools, horse and cattle barns, and a horse race track reflected his interests in animal husbandry and sports.

The estate became a part of the Delaware State Park system in 1976 and has since offered over 200 acres of public space for outdoor activities such as hiking, community gardening, tennis and equestrian sports.

Delaware Park

William du Pont, Jr. helped bring thoroughbred horse racing to Delaware with the opening of Delaware Park on June 26, 1936. He partially designed and supervised the park's construction. In addition to Delaware Park, du Pont designed more than 25 steeplechase and flat racing tracks. Many of his tracks are located in the Middle Atlantic region, including the National Cup course at Fair Hill, Maryland.
Today, Delaware Park offers horse racing, casino gaming, and entertainment. The park continues to be a major contributor to the economic vibrancy of northern Delaware.


William du Pont, Jr. enjoyed traveling and vacationing. He spent many summers at the exclusive vacation spot of the rich and famous on Fisher's Island, New York. There, he stayed at the luxury Mansion House resort. One summer in the 1940s he rented a "cottage" near the water which included twelve bedrooms and rooms for servants.
Cruising was a popular pastime for wealthy Americans throughout the 20th century. William du Pont, Jr.'s papers at Hagley contain a variety of cruise brochures that he collected and presumably used for planning excursions. Ports-of-call included fantastic destinations such as South America, the Mediterranean, and even six-month-long world cruises.

Clothing and Dress

Custom clothing for horseback riding and hunting was a necessity for sporting in style. William du Pont, Jr. frequently ordered from mail-order catalogs like Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Brooks Brothers Clothing, and Meyer's Riding Apparel. He even selected fabric and designed custom buttons with an image of a fox for hunting activities at his Fair Hill farm in Cecil County, Maryland.


Entertaining guests was a major activity at William du Pont, Jr.'s Bellevue estate. At one elegant tea party in 1940, du Pont invited nearly 2,100 guests to his home. The party featured a 15-man orchestra lead by Meyer Davis, a valet parking service, and so much liquor that a liquor license was required for the day. To keep out the press and curious locals, du Pont hired two Pinkerton detectives to secure the area.

Tennis in the Community

While married to world champion tennis player Margaret Osborne, William du Pont, Jr. supported programs to promote tennis in the local community. In the 1940s he launched a challenge in the Wilmington area to match funds for building new community and school tennis courts. In the 1950s he helped the University of Delaware build several new tennis courts.
In addition to building courts, du Pont also worked with the Delaware Lawn Tennis Association (DLTA) to sponsor free tennis instruction classes open to the public. William du Pont, Jr. was an active member of the DLTA and served as a chairman for DLTA-sponsored tournaments.

DuPont Nylon Strings

After the invention of Nylon in the 1930s, the DuPont Company sought creative ways to use their useful new invention. One of these uses was in Nylon tennis strings. The first tennis strings were originally made from animal gut material. DuPont found that its Nylon strings lasted longer and were less expensive.
William du Pont, Jr. marketed the company's product to famous professional tennis players he knew. In 1945, du Pont, Jr. wrote to friend and world tennis champion Bill Tilden requesting that he give the new formulation of DuPont's Nylon strings a try and provide the company with his feedback.

Thoroughbred Horses

His love for hunting led William du Pont, Jr. to become an enthusiastic horse rider and owner of thoroughbred horses. His horses stabled at Bellevue Hall, Delaware, and Walnut Hall Farm, Virginia, were trained by well-known trainers Preston E. Burch and Richard E. Handlen. Together with his sister Marion du Pont Somerville Scott, he operated the annual Montpelier Horse Show and Montpelier Hunt Race Meeting which included flat and steeplechase races.
One of William du Pont, Jr.'s best horses was a thoroughbred named Rosemont. In 1937, Rosemont beat the beloved Seabiscuit and his jockey Red Pollard in the Santa Anita Handicap in a photo finish. William du Pont, Jr. reportedly bought the famed thoroughbred stallion The Satrap in England for a then enormous sum of $100,000 and sold the stallion in 1932 for $4,600.

Hunting Hounds

The childhood days William du Pont, Jr. spent at his father's estates provided him with plenty of opportunities to learn about, and love, not only horses but also hunting dogs. He established his first foxhound pack in 1912 at Montpelier, and in 1926 he moved it to the farm in Cecil County, Maryland, later known as Fair Hill estate.
The Foxcatcher Hounds pack, named after his farm near Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, was well recognized among foxhunting clubs of America. du Pont organized the Foxcatcher Hounds Hunting Club at his premises in Fair Hill, Maryland as a seasonal hunt for his family and friends.
William du Pont, Jr. was an active member of the American Foxhound Club, Masters of Foxhound Associations of America, and a number of local foxhunting clubs in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware.

Cattle Farming

Following in the tradition of his father, William du Pont, Jr. maintained fine dairy and beef cattle herds on his estates. William du Pont, Jr. was the owner of one of the premier herds of the American beef cattle breed, Santa Gertrudis.
The breed was originally developed in the 1920s. Du Pont, Jr. worked with American cattle breeder Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. of Kings Ranch in Kingsville, Texas, to bring specimens of the new breed to his estate. After William du Pont, Jr. died in 1965, Kings Ranch purchased the entire purebred herd.

Last edited by Rollo; Oct 27th, 2012 at 04:22 AM.
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post #49 of 54 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 2012, 04:11 AM Thread Starter
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Re: The Margaret Osborne Dupont thread

As the Hagley Library mini-bio makes clear, William Dupont was a major force in promoting tennis in Delaware and the East Coast. He helped fund and pursued Alice Marble before he married Margaret Osborne. "Willy" also aided William "Billy" Talbert, a tennis player who overcame diabetes to become a first rate player and mixed doubles partner of Margaret's.

Dupont had some eccentric habits. When Alfa and I interviewed Pauline Betz in 2004 she told us all the players nicknamed him "Dirty Willy" due to his smell. She attributed it to his not bathing often enough. Could his constantly being around horses have been the real cause?

He was also woefully estranged from his son John by his first marriage. As an adult John had to make appointments to see his father.

Last edited by Rollo; Nov 20th, 2012 at 03:11 PM.
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post #50 of 54 (permalink) Old Nov 2nd, 2012, 07:35 AM
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Re: Margaret Osborne Dupont

She is quite underrated. I didnt know she was that high all time on the all time slam list.
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post #51 of 54 (permalink) Old Nov 2nd, 2012, 07:37 AM
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Re: Margaret Osborne Dupont

The biggest regret is she was too old and no longer in her prime when Connolly emerged. I dont believe they even played much. She may have been Connolly's toughest opponent of all, more than Hart, Brough, or Fry, had she been younger.
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post #52 of 54 (permalink) Old Nov 19th, 2012, 01:01 AM
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Re: Margaret Osborne Dupont

Hi's been awhile since i've been on here...was going down memory lane about Margaret today with my mom as Margaret was my Wightman Cup Captain for most of the 60's...when i played Fed Cup in Philly in 62 or 63 Bunny Vosters was the Captain and for the week before we played we practiced at Bellvue Hall on the grass courts..there were three grass courts that were gorgeous! Margaret played with us some doubles which was very mom and i had lunch with Margaret inside the house overlooking the was spectacular! Also right after Margaret and William got divorced or were getting divorced the Wightman Cup Team stayed at Bellvue Hall to practice even though Margaret wasn't there...we ate dinner every evening with William duPont in the incredible dining room..the dining room chairs had beautiful needlepoint seats ..each was a bit different and each was done by a player such as Alice Marble duPont would talk about Margaret and always referred to her as "my Margaret"..was sad!! Looking back it was an incredible experience..don't remember much about the practice that year but BJ and i shared a room on the second floor...Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!
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post #53 of 54 (permalink) Old Nov 20th, 2012, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Margaret Osborne Dupont thread

Hi Nancy!

Good to hear from you as always. Was Margaret as good a tactician and stratagist as I've heard from others? Louise Brough gave me the impression that Dupont was very even tempered, cool, and encouraging-exactly what many of us want in a doubles partner or coach. How did you find her?

The courts were still gorgeous when I saw them in July. I wanted to go inside the house, but it is only open a couple times a year now. The small pic below shows Margaret and Louise stepping down into the terraced courts.

The layout of the courts is still the same, just yards from the house. Now the courts are har-tru. There are many pictures of Margaret and Willy near the courts that briefly tell their story and celebrate their roles-hers in tennis and his in horse racing.

If anyone gets the chance to visit Virginia I can also recommend a visit to Montpelier. Montpelier was the home of James Madison, 4th US President. It was later the home of Willy Dupont parents, and thus Willy's childhood home. It has been done over to look as it did in Madison's day, but there is a small gallery with many pictures of Willy, his sister Marion (who married actor Randolph Scott) and their horses. In fact there were 100's of horse pictures on the walls.
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Last edited by Rollo; Nov 20th, 2012 at 03:39 PM.
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post #54 of 54 (permalink) Old Nov 20th, 2012, 03:30 PM Thread Starter
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Re: The Margaret Osborne Dupont thread

The Delaware grass event in 1944 with the house in the background.
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