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Nov 20th, 2012 02:30 PM
Re: The Margaret Osborne Dupont thread

The Delaware grass event in 1944 with the house in the background.
Nov 20th, 2012 02:23 PM
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.
Nov 19th, 2012 12:01 AM
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!!!
Nov 2nd, 2012 06:37 AM
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.
Nov 2nd, 2012 06:35 AM
Re: Margaret Osborne Dupont

She is quite underrated. I didnt know she was that high all time on the all time slam list.
Oct 27th, 2012 03:11 AM
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.
Oct 27th, 2012 03:08 AM
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.
Oct 27th, 2012 02:49 AM
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.
Oct 27th, 2012 02:39 AM
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
Oct 27th, 2012 02:35 AM
Re: Margaret Osborne Dupont

I was saddened to hear the news of her passing. Thanks you for letting us know Ugarte.

I had some time to reflect on Margaret earlier this summer when I visited her old home at Bellevue. The mansion house itself is closed except for rare tours, but I was able to wander around the grounds. The tennis courts Willy had built for her are still there, and there is a nice tribute to Margaret recounting her career.

I got to see Margreat when she played doubles at the East Coast Grass Court Championships in the early sixties. She was in her forties, but still a great doubles player. Her second serve had so much spin, that you could hear a swishing sound as her racket hit the ball. She had very tough competition in her prime: Brough, Hart, Betz, Palfrey-Cooke, Patricia Todd, among others. She, along with her top competition, have been much underrated which is sad and unfair.
How lucky you were to see her in person Thrust. I never spoke with Margaret, but had the good fortune of talking to Louise Brough 3 or 4 times, so naturally Margaret's name came up quite a lot.

Now we only have Brough and Todd from that era.

And I couldn't agree with you more about all of them being underrated. At #4 in the all-time slam list Margaret deserves her due respect.
Oct 27th, 2012 02:26 AM
Re: The Margaret Osborne Dupont thread

A clearly happy Margaret with her Wimbledon trophy in 1947. "Ozzie" and "Broughie" had divergent fortunes in singles at the two biggest events of the day. Brough thrived in the cathedral like atmosphere of Wimbledon, winning it 4 times in all. Margaret's lone victory there came in 1947. By contrast Dupont won at Forest Hills 3 times. Louise, who disliked all the hustle and bustle of the crowded facilities in New York, told me that it never bothered Margaret at all.
Oct 27th, 2012 02:16 AM
Re: The Margaret Osborne Dupont thread

Margaret hitting one her famous "cut" or slice shots. Opponents and eyewitnesses such as Thrust often remarked on her ability to slice, a valuable weapon on low bouncing grass.

Dupont had a sound grasp of tactics. A few women, like her doubles partner Louise Brough, might possess more weight of shot and weapons, but Margaret's use of strategy and calm presence on court brought her through many tough matches-notably in saving match points vs Pauline Betz at the 1946 French Championships and in the hard fought 1948 US National final vs Brough-this last match going 15-13 in the third and final set.

Oct 27th, 2012 02:08 AM
Re: The Margaret Osborne Dupont thread

Thanks to Ugarte for letting us know of Margaret's passing.

Here is her obituary from the New York Times:


Published: October 25, 2012

Margaret Osborne duPont, a tenacious and durable American tennis champion who won six Grand Slam singles titles in the middle decades of the 20th century while becoming one of the most dominant doubles players of her era, died Wednesday at her home in El Paso. She was 94.

Her death was confirmed on Thursday by Leigh Bloss, the son of the former tennis, badminton and squash star Margaret Varner Bloss, a friend and business partner of duPont’s who lived with her for much of her life.

A fixture in women’s tennis for almost a quarter century, duPont won 37 Grand Slam titles, 31 of them in doubles play, placing her fourth on the list of players with the most Grand Slam laurels. Her last, in mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 1962, came at the age of 44.

DuPont was ranked No. 1 in the world among women at year’s end from 1947 through 1950 and among the top 10 American women in the sport for the better part of 20 years, starting as an already cosmopolitan 20-year-old in San Francisco and still holding steady among the elite at 40.

It was a celebrated run of endurance and high-caliber play by a competitor who was renowned for refusing to wilt under pressure. When she lost, it was rarely in straight sets. Several of her matches set longevity records.

One was in 1948, at the United States national championships at Forest Hills, Queens. Over two days, she and Bill Talbert outlasted Gussie Moran and Bob Falkenberg in an epic 71-game mixed doubles semifinal, a record that stood for more than 40 years. In the same tournament, vying for the singles title, duPont came from behind to defeat Louise Brough, her friend and doubles partner, in 48 games, winning the last set by 15-13. It was the longest women’s final at Forest Hills.

A poised and canny playmaker, DuPont wielded a dazzling arsenal of shots, including low-flying spin volleys and gravity-defying lobs, often executed in sensible shorts rather than the billowy tennis skirts customary in her day. She interrupted her career only twice: in 1947, to become, at 29, the second wife of William duPont Jr., a 51-year-old tennis-loving, fox hunting heir to the chemical company fortune; and in 1952, to give birth to their son, William III. She had met her husband in California, where on yearly visits he liked to watch and play tennis. “He wasn’t very good, but he sure loved to play,” duPont told The El Paso Times in 2011.

She lived in splendor at Bellevue Hall, her husband’s Delaware estate outside Wilmington, socializing with the rich and famous and practicing her game on the grounds.

DuPont’s concession to becoming a wife was a career-long absence from the Australian Championships, held in the winter. Her husband, an otherwise enthusiastic supporter of her career, insisted on wintering in California for his health and threatened divorce if she went to Australia, she said. Many believe she would have exceeded Billie Jean King’s 39 Slam titles if she had competed in Australia. (Margaret Court had 62, the record.)

The couple did divorce, amicably, in 1964, and duPont lived for the rest of her life in Texas with Bloss, who survives her, as do DuPont’s son, William, a former owner of the Orlando Magic, and four grandchildren.

Motherhood did not distract her. DuPont continued to accumulate Grand Slam titles, becoming one of only a handful of women to do so after giving birth. Her singles titles came at Wimbledon (1947), the French Open (1946 and ’49) and the United States national championships (1948-50). DuPont shared her doubles success with both men and women. From 1943 to 1960, she won nine mixed doubles championships at Forest Hills alongside four different partners.

Her most successful collaboration was with Brough. Together they held the record for most Grand Slam doubles titles, 20, until Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver tied it in 1989. DuPont and Brough also had an eight-year unbeaten streak, from 1942 to 1950, and held a virtual monopoly on the Forest Hills doubles crown, winning it 12 times in 14 tries. Her distinction as the oldest woman to win a Wimbledon title lasted 41 years, until Navratilova won in 2003 in mixed doubles at 46.

One of duPont’s most important partnerships on the court and off was with Margaret Bloss. When not competing in tennis, badminton and squash, Bloss, nine years’ duPont’s junior, was social secretary to William duPont and tutor to the duPonts’ son.

She and Margaret duPont reached the women’s doubles final at Wimbledon in 1958, losing to Althea Gibson and Maria Bueno. In 1962, as duPont’s career wound down, the two defeated Britain in the Wightman Cup doubles competition. DuPont had an unblemished record, 19-0, in Wightman Cup play, a now discontinued British competition.

After duPont and her husband divorced, she remained in the East so that her son would be near his father. But after William duPont died in 1965, she moved with her son and Leigh Bloss to Texas to breed thoroughbred horses near El Paso, Bloss’s hometown, and share a home.

For duPont, the daughter of a rancher, the DuPont-Bloss Stables melded two pieces of her past, producing horses with names like Tennis Star, A Smash, Super Set, Court Shot and Net Effect.

She had no regrets about leaving Delaware, she told The El Paso Herald Post in 1998: “I was never impressed by the duPont name. I’m still not.”

Margaret Evelyn Osborne was born on March 4, 1918, in Joseph, Ore., the daughter of St. Lawrence and Eva Jane Osborne. She spent her earliest years on a modest ranch tended by her parents, riding to and from school on horseback and playing baseball with her brother on a backyard lot.

“I had quite a bit of natural athletic ability,” she recalled in 1998. “My brother, Charles, and I played baseball, and I could throw the ball like a boy.”
Margaret began playing tennis at 9 after the family moved to Spokane, Wash., her father having been unable to continue to do farm labor for health reasons. Two years later they moved to San Francisco, where her father found work as a car mechanic. Margaret, at 11, began playing at the Golden Gate public courts, competing in tournaments and writing freelance articles for American Lawn Tennis Magazine.

After graduating from the High School of Commerce in 1936, and unable to afford college, duPont decided on a tennis career, starting at 18 by taking the train to Philadelphia and winning the junior nationals singles and double titles and training for a year with the renowned coach Tom Stow.

She also found work writing and working for the Northern California Tennis Association as its secretary-treasurer, and during World War II she worked in a marine shipbuilding plant. Her father died in 1948 at age 60 when a young woman drove her car through a red light in San Francisco and hit him.

DuPont was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1967 alongside Bobby Riggs, Brough and Talbert, with whom she won a record four consecutive United States mixed doubles championships, from 1943-46.

Tennis then was so unlike today’s game, she said in an interview with the Hall of Fame. “We played with wooden rackets, and the balls are much harder now,” she said. “Our game was more about finesse, not so much power as today.” And because the stars of her day were not paid, she said, they played for one reason: “For the love of the game.”
Oct 27th, 2012 01:08 AM
Re: Margaret Osborne Dupont

I got to see Margreat when she played doubles at the East Coast Grass Court Championships in the early sixties. She was in her forties, but still a great doubles player. Her second serve had so much spin, that you could hear a swishing sound as her racket hit the ball. She had very tough competition in her prime: Brough, Hart, Betz, Palfrey-Cooke, Patricia Todd, among others. She, along with her top competition, have been much underrated which is sad and unfair.
Oct 26th, 2012 10:56 AM
The Margaret Osborne Dupont thread

Margaret Osborne Dupont A Great Champion Passes Away On Wednesday October 24 2012 At Age 94 In El Paso Texas.

See Wta Site Article

This thread has more than 15 replies. Click here to review the whole thread.

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