The big 125 anniversary list for women's tennis
As some of you may know, this July marked the 125th anniversary of women's tournament tennis. So, in order to celebrate that, I decided to compile a historical account of women's tennis over those 125 years. It is a look at all of the champions, personalities, and events that have shaped the history of women's tennis. And while I could not go into as much detail as each entry deserved, for the sake of brevity, I feel I've been pretty thorough. Think of each entry as a "Reader's Digest" version, whetting your appetite for more involved discussions, both here, and in our excellent (plug) Blast From The Past forum.
I had intended to complete this in July, but I underestimated the work involved, and overestimated the time I would have, and didn't expect several other events. So, here it is, late, but hopefully worth the wait. I wanted to get it done before the YEC, or on the day they started. I may yet accomplish that goal. And while I was rushing to finish this thread, I thought, why worry if it isn't 100% finished, or if I don't have as much as I want. This is a thread, not a published article. If more info comes up later, I can always edit. So instead of worrying about completing "my" thread, I open it to all of your contributions as well. Any interesting facts and tidbits can be added in later, to make it an evolving history.
And yes, some info has been omitted for the sake of making it manageable. Legends such as Navratilova, Graf, Evert, Court, King, etc., could easily take up an entire thread on their own (and do, in BFTP). So I've listed some of their highest highlights. If you feel I've shortchanged a player, it is purely unintentional. This thread is not intended to elevate any great above any other. It is merely a (largely) chronological history of women's tennis. Do take note, however, that every player who has won a Grand Slam title of any kind is included in this thread. So enjoy, discuss, and honor the people and events that have shaped this sport we love.
Index: in the listing of GS (Grand Slam) titles won, they are abbreviated in order of tournament (Australian, French, Wimbledon, and US) then event (Singles, Doubles, and Mixed).
Also note: where I don't specify men's or women's tennis, assume I'm refering to the women's tour.
1. The Irish Championships
The first modern organized tournament for women was at the Irish Championships in 1879. Wimbledon was actually offered the opportunity to stage the first women's event. Not surprisingly, they turned it down. This also gave us the first women's champion: May Langrishe, who defeated D. Meldon 6-2 0-6 8-6 in the final. The following year saw the first women's doubles event at this same tournament, with May teaming with a Miss Butler to defeat Meldon and May's older sister 6-3 6-4.
Did you know-- May was the younger of at least 2 Langrishe sisters, meaning this tournament also gave us the very first "Sister Act" in tennis.
2. Maud Watson
GS titles won: W-S- 1884, 85
The first Wimbledon singles champ, and thus the first GS singles champ. She defeated her sister in the final. It wasn't considered a big deal at the time. Little did anyone expect that it would take well over 100 years (including the entire 20th century) before two sisters would again meet in a Grand Slam final. Just think of how many modern inventions came into existence during that time.
3. Blanche Bingley Hillyard
GS titles won: W-S- 1886, 89, 94, 97, 99, 1900
The first great GS champion, winning 6 Wimbledon singles titles. First GS singles champ of the 20th century.
4. Charlotte "Lottie" Dod
GS titles won: W-S- 1887, 88, 91, 92, 93
Schoolgirl who became (and still is) the youngest ever to win a GS singles title. Because of her age, she was permitted to wear shorter skirts and less cumbersome outfits than her opponents, who considered it an unfair advantage.
Did you know-- Dod later won an Olympic medal, although not in tennis.
5. Ellen Hansell
GS titles won: U-S- 1887
First winner of the US championships.
Did you know- Hansell was anemic. When she was young, her family doctor recommended putting her on a tennis court daily to build her up.
6. Mabel Cahill
GS titles won: U- S- 1891; D- 1891, 92; M- 1892
First non-US winner of the US Championships.
7. Juliette Atkinson
GS titles won: U- S- 1895, 97, 98; D- 1894-98, 1901, 02; M- 1894-96
Won the "triple" in 1897. First great champion of the US nationals, claiming 13 total titles.
Did you know-- Atkinson's final US singles title was the gift of an incompetent line judge. Down match point to Marion Jones in the 5th set of the final, Atkinson hit a ball that clearly went out, yet the line judge insisted it was in.
8. Pavlina Palffy
GS titles won: none
Hungarian player who made early women's sports history. At the inaugural Hungarian nationals, they were apparently short of players necessary to fill a complete men's and women's draw. So all of the players, male and female, were combined into one singles draw. Palffy won the title, becoming the first to win a mixed singles tournament.
9. Charlotte Cooper Sterry
GS titles won: W-S- 1895, 96, 98, 1901, 08
The most successful member of the "first family of Wimbledon". Daughter Gwen Sterry also played.
Did you know-- Cooper's nephew claimed that she was "stone deaf".
10. Elizabeth Moore
GS titles won: U- S- 1896, 1901, 03, 05; D- 1896, 1903; M- 1902, 04
11. Other 19th Century GS Champs
Lena Rice (W-S-1890); Bertha Townsend (U- S- 1888, 89; D- 1889); Ellen Roosevelt (U- S-1890; D-1890; M-1893); Aline Terry (U- S-1893; D-1893); Helen Hellwig (U- S-1894; D- 1894, 95); Marion Jones (U- S-1899, 1902; D-1902; M-1901); Myrtle McAteer (U- S-1900; D- 1899-1901); Margarette Ballard (U-D-1889); Grace Roosevelt (U-D-1890); W.F. Morgan (U-D-1891); A.M. McKinlay (U-D-1892); Hattie Butler (U-D-1893); Kathleen Atkinson (U-D- 1897, 98); Jane Craven (U-D-1899); Laura Henson (U-M-1897); Carrie B. Neely (U- D- 1903, 05, 07; M-1898); Elizabeth Rastall (U-M-1899)
12. The Olympics
The 2nd modern Olympiad in 1900 heralded the dawn of a new century. It was also the first to include women participants. And tennis was at the forefront, crowning the first woman gold medalist in Olympic history. For a list of all of the medalists, and most of the draws, check the Olympics thread in the Grand Slam Results forum.
13. Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers
GS titles won: W-S- 1903, 04, 06, 10, 11, 13, 14
Broke Bingley's record of most Wimbledon singles crowns, claiming 7.
14. May Sutton Bundy
GS titles won: W- S- 1905, 07; U- S- 1904; D-1904
First foreign winner of Wimbledon. First player to win Wimbledon and the US Nationals, and first to hold both titles simultaneously. Mother of the prolific Dorothy "Dodo" Bundy Cheney.
15. Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman
GS titles won: W- D- 1924; U- S- 1909-11, 19; D- 1909-11, 15, 24, 28; M- 1909-11, 15, 18, 20
Did not lose a match at the US Nationals in any event from 1909-1911, winning the "triple" 3 straight years. Most famous for founding a women's equivalent to Davis Cup, which bore her name.
Did you know-- during a Wightman Cup match she coached, one of her players wore some color trim on her otherwise all-white outfit. When the player lost, Wightman was convinced it was the color that threw her off her game.
16. Mary K. Browne
GS titles won: W-D-1926; U- S- 1912-14; D- 1912-14, 21, 25; M- 1912-14, 21
Like Wightman, Browne had a 3 year unbeaten run at the U.S. Nationals, winning the triple "triple" from 1912-1914.
17. Elizabeth Ryan
GS titles won: F- D- 1930, 32-34; W- D- 1914, 19-23, 25-27, 30, 33, 34; M- 1919, 21, 23, 27, 28, 30, 32; U- D- 1926; M- 1926, 33
The most successful doubles specialist of the early 20th century. She formed a great partnership with Suzanne Lenglen. Set a record with 19 total titles at Wimbledon, the first and last of which came 20 years apart.
Did you know--Ryan most adamantly did not want to see her Wimbledon record broken. Perhaps not coincidently, she died on the eve of the 1979 women's doubles final, where King did just that.
18. Molla Bjurstedt Mallory
GS titles won: U- S- 1915-18, 20-22, 26; M- 1917, 22, 23
Most successful U.S. singles champ ever, winning 8 singles titles. Handed Suzanne Lenglen a rare singles loss in the brutal New York summer heat and humidity.
Did you know-- when arriving in the U.S., Mallory listed her occupation as "masseuse".
19. Early 20th Century GS Champions
Muriel Robb (W-S-1902); Dora Boothby (W-S- 1909; D- 1913); Ethel Larcombe (W-S-1912; M-1914); Winifred McNair (W-D-1913); Agatha Morton (W-D-1914); Agnes Daniell Tuckey (W-M-1913); Helen Homans (U- S-1906; D-1905); Evelyn Sears (U- S-1907; D-1908); Maud Barger-Wallach (U-S-1908); Edith Parker (U-D-1900); Hallie Champlin (U-D-1900); Miriam Hall (U-D-1904); Mrs. L.S. Coe (U-D-1906); Marie Weimer (U-D-1907); Margaret Curtis (U-D-1908); Edith Rotch (U-D- 1909-10; M-1908); Eleanora Sears (U-D- 1911, 15-17; M- 1916); Dorothy Green (U-D-1912); Mrs. R.H. Williams (U-D- 1913, 14, 21); Eleanor Goss (U-D- 1918-20, 26); Marion Zinderstein (U- D- 1918-20, 22; M-1919); Margaret Hunnewell (U-M-1900); Helen Chapman (U-M-1903); Alice Hobart (U-M-1905); Sarah Coffin (U-M-1906); May Sayres (U-M-1907)
20. Early Roland Garros Singles Champions
Adine Masson (1897-99, 1902-03); Y. Prevost (1900); P.Girod (1901); Katie Gilou Fenwick (1904-6, 08); Countesse de Kermel (1907); Jeanne Matthey (1909-12); Marguerite Broquedis Billout (1913-14); Suzanne Lenglen (1919-23); Didi Vlasto (1924)
21. Suzanne Lenglen
GS titles won: F- S-1925, 26; D- 1925, 26; M- 1925, 26; W- S- 1919-23, 25; D- 1919-23, 25; M- 1920, 22, 25
The first major international superstar of women's tennis, and the first tennis diva. Was the first winner of the French Championships after it had been opened to all countries. Was the first tennis star who could command world headlines beyond the sports pages. Also noted for starting fashion trends, such as the "Lenglen Bandeau". It was largely due to her popularity that Wimbledon was forced to move from Worple Road to a bigger facility.
Many are the legendary stories about Lenglen. Her training methods (including aiming at coins on the court). Her tournament withdrawals, which often resulted in conflicts with the press. Her overbearing father (the first prominent "bad dad" of tennis.) Her rivalry with Wills that never got to develop. Her rivalry with Tilden for attention in the media. Reports of her sipping alcoholic beverages during matches. All contributed to making her one of the most interesting sports figures in history. Sadly, her career, and her life, both ended much too soon.
Did you know--contrary to frequently shown footage showing her leaping to put away a volley, Lenglen was a counterpuncher who very rarely came to the net in singles.
22. Margaret "Mall" Molesworth
GS titles won: A- S- 1922, 23; D- 1930, 33, 34
Was deemed a fitting winner of the first Australian women's championship, as she was considered to have the most complete game and widest array of shots of any Australian player of the time, male or female. Could serve flat, with slice, or kick serve with equal ability.
Did you know-- the power and variety of her backhand was such that she often played the ad court in mixed doubles-- a rarity for women in that era.
23. Helen Wills Moody
GS titles won: F- S- 1928-30, 32; D- 1930, 32; W- S- 1927-30, 32, 33, 35, 38; D- 1924, 27, 30; M- 1929; U- S- 1923-25, 27-29, 31; D- 1922, 24, 25, 28; M- 1924, 28
Was first player to win the French, Wimbledon, and US singles titles, the first to hold all 3 simultaneously, the first to win all 3 in one season, and the first to win all 3 in a season more than once. Created first great rivalry with Lenglen, shortened by the latter's retirement. Set new records for most Wimbledon and total GS singles titles won, which would stand for more than 50 and 30 years respectively. Hit with power from both sides, usually prefering to stand in the middle of the baseline and blast shots from corner to corner, wearing out her opponents. Not a particularly good volleyer, and didn't come forward much in singles. Also known for a lack of footspeed.
Did you know-- Wills is reported to have gone undefeated for 6 years; a span of 154 matches.
24. Kathleen "Kitty" McKane
GS titles won: W- S- 1924, 26; M- 1924, 26; U- D- 1923, 27; M-1925
The top British player during the era of Lenglen and Wills. In winning her first Wimbledon title, she had to face down a "murderer's row" of opponents, opening with Blanche Colston, then drawing, in succession, Molla Mallory, Hazel Wightman, Marion Jessup, Suzanne Lenglen, and Helen Wills, losing only one set in her last 5 rounds (in the final to Wills. Lenglen withdrew.) A very impressive run.
Did you know--McKane was the first to have reached the finals of the French, Wimbledon, and US Championships in a career.
25. Wightman Cup
Founded by Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman as the women's answer to Davis Cup. It ran from 1923-1989, pitting the United States against Great Britain. The U.S. dominated the event, winning 51 of the 61 times it was contested. Several American players went undefeated in singles and doubles, including Jane "Peaches" Bartkowicz, Pauline Betz, Louise Brough, Maureen Connolly, Margaret Osborne duPont, Patty Fendick, Beverly Baker Fleitz, Bonnie Gadusek, Martina Navratilova, and Kathy Rinaldi. Chris Evert compiled an astonishing 26-0 singles record. And in an amazing coincidence, Great Britain's 2 biggest wins, 6-1, came exactly 50 years apart, in 1924 and 1974. In 1924, both Phyllis Covell and Kitty McKane defeated Helen Wills in singles.
Did you know--the refusal of the British and US tennis associations to allow other nations to join Wightman Cup led to the creation of the Federation Cup.
GS titles won: A- S- 1925, 26, 28-30; D- 1924, 25, 28, 29, 31; M- 1924, 25, 28, 29
First great champion of the Australian Championships. Her record of 5 singles and 14 total titles at the tournament stood for about a decade and a half until broken by Bolton. Known for being fit and fast, with great footwork. When Kitty McKane wrote a tennis instructional book, she cited Akhurst's footwork as the ideal model. Played an all-court game. Had a couple of successful overseas trips, despite a knee injury nagging her on one of them. Retired from singles after marriage in 1930. The tennis world was stunned when she died at the age of 29.
Did you know-- Akhurst was as talented a pianist as tennis player, and was associated with the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
27. Ted Tinling
The most famous (or infamous) fashion designer in women's tennis history. He was a walking encyclopedia of the sport, having been involved with it in some manner from the heyday of Lenglen, through the Slims 70's (when he was the official tour designer) until his death in 1990. He gained perhaps the most notoriety as the designer of the lace panties Gussy Moran wore in 1949.
Did you know: Ted made a couple of final predictions in 1990 before he passed away. One was that this newcomer, Monica Seles, had the personality to give the sport a real boost. The other was that Martina would win Wimbledon that year. He was right on both counts.
28. Jedwiga Jedrzejowska
GS titles won: F- D- 1939
Enduring player from Poland, famous for being the top ranked player from her country for over 30 years, starting from the 1920's. Her career spanned the eras from Helen Wills Moody up through Maureen Connolly, Althea Gibson, Maria Bueno, Margaret Smith Court, and Billie Jean King.
Did you know-- after the 1937 US final, Jedrzejowska and Lizana embraced at the net and kissed, shocking spectators and officials. It was the first time it happened after a GS final. (6 years earlier, Nuthall and Whittingstall did so after a semifinal.)
29. Sarah Palfrey
GS titles won: F-M-1939; W-D-1938, 39; U- S- 1941, 45; D- 1930, 32, 34, 35, 37-41; M- 1932, 35, 37, 41
A top doubles player of the war era. Won an impressive 9 US doubles titles. Unfortunately for her, that record didn't last very long with the emergence of the legendary Brough/Osborne team.
30. Betty Nuthall
GS titles won: F- D-1931; M- 1931, 32; U- S-1930; D- 1930, 31, 33; M- 1929, 31
Was the first British player to win the US Championships, and did so as a teenager. Was a dominant junior player who never achieved the same level of results in the senior events.
Did you know-- Nuthall was the British junior champion for 3 straight years-- starting at the age of 13!
31. Helen Jacobs
GS titles won: W-S-1936; U- S- 1932-35; D- 1932, 34, 35; M- 1934
Forever refered to as "the other Helen", she was overshadowed by her more famous colleague, Helen Wills Moody. Won the US triple crown in 1934
Did you know-- Jacobs had a match point on her rival Moody in the 1935 Wimbledon final, and the wind blew the ball off course, causing her to miss an easy smash.
32. Joan Hartigan
GS titles won: A- S- 1933, 34, 36; M- 1934
Unlike previous Australian champs, who played a varied game, Hartigan's was built around her forehand. Was a very popular champion with the Australian crowds, due to her friendly personality (and pleated skirts?). Had great success in Europe, including 2 Wimbledon semis. Defeated 2 seeds in her first visit there.
Did you know-- Hartigan had a leg strain in 1933, and nearly withdrew from the Australian Championships.
33. Hilde Krahwinkel Sperling
GS titles won: F- S- 1935-37; W-M-1933
First to win 3 straight French Championships? First great German, then Danish champion. Played a counterpunching game, predicated on her speed, and would wear down her opponents. Her matches were generally not considered asthetically pleasing.
Did you know-- Sperling was a cross-country runner.
34. Simone Mathieu
GS titles won: F- S- 1938, 39; D- 1933, 34, 36-39; M- 1937, 38; W- D- 1933, 34, 37
French champion the two years leading into WW II, was probably deprived more titles by the war. Won the French triple crown in 1938. Played a grinding baseline game, which often resulted in long matches.
Did you know-- Mathieu's matches with her rival Sperling were notorious for their length, and tested the endurance of the players (and fans?).
35. Margaret Croft "Peggy" Scriven
GS titles won: F- S- 1933, 34; D-1935; M-1933
Scriven was the first left-handed woman to win a GS singles title. Was also the first British woman to win the French Championships. Was known for her forehand.
Did you know-- Scriven won the British junior championship without ever having had a lesson.
36. Dorothy Round
GS titles won: A-S-1935; W- S- 1934, 37; M- 1934-36
Last British woman to hold the #1 ranking for decades. It wasn't until the 1950's that another British woman even won a GS singles title. An all-court player with good volleys and a strong backhand. Round loved pace from her opponents.
Did you know-- Round was a Sunday School teacher, and refused to play on that day.
37. Thelma Long
GS titles won: A- S- 1952, 54; D- 1936, 40, 47-49, 51, 52, 56, 58; M- 1951, 52, 54, 55; F-M-1956
In a career befitting her surname, Long won her first and last slam titles, both Australian doubles, an incredible 22 years apart. Won 9 Australian doubles titles. Was known as "The Australian #2", as she was always behind Bolton, who had more power, more speed, and a bigger serve.
38. Nancye Wynne Bolton
GS titles won: A- S- 1937, 40, 46-8, 51; D- 1936-40, 47-49, 51, 52; M- 1940, 46-8
Dominant Australian war-era player. Was singles champ before and after WW II, which undoubtedly cost her even more titles. Still managed then-records of 6 singles titles, 10 doubles titles, and 20 overall Australian titles. Had a big serve, and a big forehand which produced a lot of winners and errors. Was very streaky. Got in trouble with Australian tennis officials on a couple of occasions. Married during the war, but her husband was killed in combat.
Did you know-- Bolton became a golfer after her tennis career.
39. Alice Marble
GS titles won: W- S-1939; D- 1938, 39; M- 1937-39; U- S- 1936, 38-40; D- 1937-40; M- 1936, 38-40
Most famous for being the first prominent serve/volleyer. Won the Wimbledon triple in 1939, and was the partner for Bobby Riggs' infamous sweep in which he bet on himself to win all 3 titles and pocketed over $100K. The two of them swept all 5 Wimbledon titles that year. Marble also won a "triple triple" at the US Championships, winning all 3 titles for 3 successive years (1938-40)
Did you know: Marble blasted the USLTA in a prominent tennis publication for refusing to allow Althea Gibson to play in their events. It was this criticism that may have shamed them into it.
40. Anita Lizana
GS titles won: U-S-1937
Was first South American, and first Latin American, to win a GS singles title, and first to reach #1. Renowned for her drop shot.
Did you know-- Lizana married a Scot and moved away. Years later, when she returned to Chile, she needed a translator because she could no longer understand Spanish.
41. Margaret Osborne Dupont
GS titles won: F- S- 1946, 49; D- 1946, 47, 49; W- S-1947; D- 1946, 48-50, 54; M-1962; U- S- 1948-50; D- 1941-50, 55-57; M- 1943-46, 50, 56, 58-60
Won a staggering 13 doubles titles at the US Championships, including an incredible 10 consecutive. Adding in her almost as amazing 9 mixed titles there, and 3 singles titles, and she is the biggest winner ever at the US Championships, with an astounding 25 total titles! Her first and last slam titles came 21 years apart.
Did you know-- Osborne won one of her US singles titles shortly after her father was killed in a car accident. Her mother advised her to play.
42. Althea Louise Brough
GS titles won: A- S-1950; D-1950; F- D- 1946, 47, 49; W- S- 1948-50, 55; D- 1946, 48-50, 54; M- 1946-48, 50; U- S-1947; D- 1942-50, 55-57; M- 1942, 47-49
Margaret Osborne's longtime partner; the two of them won 20 GS doubles titles together (and one each with other partners). The most profilic doubles team prior to the Open era. The duo accounted for all of the doubles and mixed titles at the US Championships from 1942-1950, and won the singles there from 1947-1950, giving them a hold on every US slam titles for those 4 years. Played the attacking game common among American women of the era. Had a good high-kicking serve. Brough had problems with stamina until having back surgery in 1948.
Did you know-- Brough was trained by the same coach who taught a young Jack Kramer.
43. Pauline Betz
GS titles won: F-M-1946; W-S-1946; U- S- 1942-44, 46;
44. War era GS Champions
Silvia Lance (A-S-1924; D- 1923-25;, M-1925); Esna Boyd (A-S-1927; D- 1922, 23, 26; M- 1922, 26, 27); Coral Buttsworth (A-S- 1931, 32; D-1932); Dorothy "Dodo" Bundy (A-S-1938); Emily Westacott (A- S-1939; D- 1930, 33, 34); Marjorie Mountain (A-D-1922); Meryl O'Hara Wood (A- D- 1926, 27); Louise Bickerton (A- D- 1927, 29, 31; M-1935); Marjorie Cox Crawford (A- D-1932; M- 1931-33); Evelyn Dearman (A-D-1935); Nancye W. Lyle (A-D-1935); Nell Hopman (A- M- 1930, 36, 37, 39; F-D-1954); Katherine "Kea" Bouman (F- S-1927; D-1929); Cilly Aussem (F- S-1931; M-1930; W-S-1931); Didi Vlasto (F- D- 1925, 26); Irene Peacock (F-D-1927); Bobbie Heine (F-D-1927); Phoebe Watson (F-D-1928; W- D- 1928, 29; U-D-1929); Eileen Bennett Whittingstall (F- D-1928, 31; M- 1928, 29; U- D-1931; M-1927); Lili de Alvarez (F-D-1929); Kay Stammers (F-D-1935; W- D- 1935, 36); Billie Yorke (F- D- 1936-38; M-1936; W-D-1937); M. Bordis (F-M-1927); Colette Rosambert (F-M-1934); Loletta Payot (F-M-1935); Peggy Saunders (W- D-1928, 29; U-D-1929); Phyllis Mudford (W-D-1931); Dorothy Shepherd Barron (W-D-1931); Doris Metaxa (W-D-1932); Josane Sigart (W-D-1932); Freda James (W- D-1935, 36; U-D-1933); L.A. Harper (W-M-1931); Phylls Covell (U-D-1923); Ermyntrude Harvey (U-D-1927); Marjorie Gladman Van Ryn (U-D-1936); Edith Cross (U-M-1930)
45. Golden Matches
There have been at least 2 golden matches documented, both in finals. One was the 1910 Washington State championship, with Hotchkiss defeating Huiskamp. The other was the 1943 Tri-state championship, with Betz defeating Wolf.
46. Doris Hart
GS titles won: A- S-1949; D- 1949, 50; M- 1949, 50; F- S- 1950, 52; D- 1948, 50-53; M- 1951-53; W- S-1951; D- 1947, 51-53; M- 1951-55; U- S- 1954, 55; D- 1951-54; M- 1951-55
Was the first player to complete the triple career slam; winning singles, doubles, and mixed titles at each major to complete the set. Also became the only player to win a triple crown at each individual slam, doing so in Australia in 1949, at the French in 1952, at Wimbledon in 1951, and at the US in 1954. Used precision groundstrokes and anticipation to compensate for slowness afoot. Defeated Maureen Connolly in the final of the 1953 Italian Championships by changing spins, speeds, and angles. Nearly repeated the feat at Wimbledon.
Did you know-- Hart walked with a limp. A childhood knee injury was misdiagnosed, resulting in serious infection. Her leg was nearly amputated.
47. Gertrude Augusta "Gussy" Moran
GS titles won: none
A fairly good player in her time, she is, however, best remembered for wearing lace-trimmed panties at the 1949 Wimbledon Championships. A creation of famed designer Ted Tinling, he tacked on some lace around the legs of the panties almost as an afterthought. They thought the outfit looked a bit too plain, and since color was forbidden, he added the lace so it wouldn't be boring. It certainly proved to be anything but. In a monumental overreaction, Tinling was dismissed from his Wimbledon post, and accused of everything up to attempting to bring about the downfall of civilization. Never before had "unmentionables" gotten so much mention.
Did you know: Gussy's tanned complexion was due to being part Native-American.
48. Shirley Fry
GS titles won: A- S-1957; D-1957; F- S-1951; D- 1950-53; W- S-1956; D- 1951-53; M-1956; U- S-1956; D- 1951-54
Proof of timing being everything, Hart won 4 slam singles titles, winning exactly one of each. She was a personal nemesis for Althea Gibson before Gibson put the final improvements on her game and became the top player in the world. Fry was the last player to defeat Gibson in singles at a slam. She started her career as a counterpuncher, but developed an all-court game as a result of her doubles. Fry was a contradictory player in that she had a weak serve, but, reportedly, the best overhead women's tennis had seen to that point. Was only the 3rd woman to win the career slam. Her promise to retire after the 1957 Australian Championships was not taken seriously at first, as she had made previous "retirements", but this was for good.
Did you know-- Fry's final GS event, the 1957 Australian Championships, were the first to be televised in that country.
49. Maureen Connolly
GS titles won: A- S-1953; D-1953; F- S- 1953, 54; D-1954; M-1954; W- S- 1952-54; U- S- 1951-53
First woman to win the grand slam, calendar or otherwise, in 1953. Won the last 9 slam singles events she competed in. (And not, contrary to some erroneous reports, every slam she played.) It was at the 1953 Australian Championships where she met Nell and Harry Hopman. Harry became her coach and trainer, while Nell became a chaperone/mentor who brought out her softer side. She was a baseliner with power on both sides, and had tremendous intensity. Her lone weakness was the volley, which very few could exploit in singles. Already one of the all-time greats, her career was tragically cut short due to injury suffered while horseback riding. "Little Mo" also died very young, passing away about a decade and a half after her career ended.
Did you know-- Connolly was naturally left-handed, and was taught to play tennis right-handed, like Margaret Court, Ken Rosewall, and Kimiko Date.
50. Eleanor "Teach" Tennant
Tennant coached such successful players as Alice Marble, Bobby Riggs, Pauline Betz, and her most famous charge, Maureen Connolly. Tennant was vehemently opposed to Connolly's habit of horseback riding, which wound up prematurely ending her career. Tennant was a fine player in her own right, forming an unbeatable doubles partnership with Marion Zinderstein in 1920. Unfortunately, the USLTA wouldn't allow them to play together at the US Nationals. She retired from playing when she got married, but returned as a coach after her divorce.
Did you know-- Tennant was credited with designing the first "lawn tennis dress".
51. Angela Mortimer
GS titles won: A-S-1958; F-S-1955; W- S-1961; D-1955
Mortimer was known for accurate, consistent groundstrokes, albeit without much power, and clever tactical play. Defeated the popular crowd favorite Christine Truman to claim her Wimbledon title. Was the #1 player in the world in 1961.
Did you know-- Mortimer did not start playing tennis until she was 15.
52. Darlene Hard
GS titles won: F- S-1960; D- 1955, 57, 60; M- 1955, 61; W- D- 1957, 59, 60, 63; M- 1957, 59, 60; U- S- 1960, 61; D- 1958-62, 69
53. Australian mini-strike of 1956
At the 1956 Australian Championships, rain had caused a backlog of matches. When the first women's semifinal between Thelma Long and Mary Hawton went to 9-7 in the 3rd, officials tried to catch up the schedule by moving the second women's semi between Mary Carter and Daphne Seeney to an outer court. The women refused, saying they had been scheduled for Centre Court, the crowd was expecting them there, and that was the only place they'd play. Besides, Long had already gotten to play her semi on Centre, and get used to the court before the final; it wouldn't be fair to the other finalist. The officials relented, and put them back on Centre Court. Unfortunately for Seeney, just as she was getting into the match in the second set, she dislocated her right kneecap. She strapped it up and finished the match, but was unable to overcome this handicap.
54. Althea Gibson
GS titles won: A-D-1957; F- S-1956; D-1956; W- S- 1957, 58; D- 1956-58; U- S- 1957, 58; M-1957
Barrier breaking player who was the first African-American to play in a grand slam event, and the first to win one. Her success opened the door for Arthur Ashe and Bonnie Logan in the 60's, and a steady stream of players starting in the 1970's. An aggressive serve-and-volley player, Gibson began a string of S/V #1's which included Bueno, Court, and King. As with her contemporary Jackie Robinson, Gibson was greeted with hostility by the crowds, and the cold shoulder from opponents. From an openly hostile crowd at the 1950 US Nationals, which loudly encouraged her opponent to "knock her out of there", to unfriendly greetings at Wimbledon as defending champ in 1958. When Gibson was first permitted to play USTA events, she wasn't even allowed to use the dressing rooms. And while things gradually improved over the years, cultural changes in the country club set take time. Even a quarter century after Gibson's last major championship, the LTA wouldn't allow Zina Garrison and Lori McNeil to use the practice courts. And a dozen years after that, Wimbledon officials refused to allow Chanda Rubin to bring a parent in literally seconds after allowing a white player to bring in a non-coaching parent.
After Gibson won Wimbledon, she was offered a tickertape parade through the streets of New York. She accepted only on the condition that blacks and whites be allowed to attend together, and not segregated. After the 1958 US Championships, Gibson retired from amateur tennis and turned pro, as she couldn't make ends meet. When the pro tour ended, she tried her hand at golf, becoming the first African American on the LPGA Tour. Gibson made a brief return to tennis in the open era. She was originally in the qualifying draw for the 1973 US Open, but withdrew. She served as a public official in New Jersey, before eventually withdrawing from public life. Unfortunately, that withdrawal would prove the old adage "out of sight, out of mind", as Gibson was largely forgotten. Many even erroneously credited Ashe as the first African American to win a GS title.
Did you know-- until Lindsay Davenport claimed the #1 spot in 1998, Gibson had been the tallest woman to hold the #1 ranking.
55. American Tennis Association
Shortly after the sport of tennis came to the United States, various clubs and tournaments sprang up. It soon became clear that these would be reserved only for white people. So, the African-American tennis enthusiasts had to form their own clubs. Soon, there were tournaments organized, with the first black champion crowned in Philadelphia in 1898. Eventually, it was decided to form an umbrella organization, much like the USLTA. So it came to pass that on November 30th, 1916, at the YMCA in Washington, DC, that the American Tennis Association was formed. The following August, the ATA held its first National tournament in Baltimore, with the first singles titles going to Tally Holmes and Lucy Slowe. But the ATA was about more than just gathering black tennis clubs together under one organization. They made it a mission to find and nurture promising youngsters, hopeful that some day, one would be allowed into the US National Championships. This barrier breaker proved to be Althea Gibson, who was the ATA's all-time greatest champion, capturing 10 consecutive titles. She was followed by Arthur Ashe. Since then, a succession of talented players have felt the ATA's nurturing influence, including Leslie Allen, Zina Garrison, Lori McNeil, Rodney Harmon, Katrina Adams, Jeri Ingram, and Chanda Rubin. And these players, in turn, have enriched the USTA's talent pool. Most have gone on to contribute to people of all colors, well beyond the confines of the tennis court, thus becoming some of tennis' greatest ambassadors, and some of sport's greatest citizens.
56. Maria Bueno
GS titles won: A-D-1960; F- D-1960; M-1960; W- S- 1959, 60, 64; D- 1959, 60, 63, 65, 66; U- S- 1959, 63, 64, 66; D- 1960, 62, 66, 68
Serve/volley player from Brazil, known for her grace on court. Was the first South American to win Wimbledon. Also talented in doubles, she won the Grand Slam in doubles in 1960. Her career was marred by several injuries, but she still accumulated a Hall of Fame resumé. She returned to action in the 1970's on the WTA Tour.
Did you know: Bueno was the first player to win a grand slam singles championship while wearing color tennis panties.
57. Margaret Smith Court
GS titles won: A- S- 1960-66, 69-71, 73; D- 1961-63, 65, 69-71, 73; M- 1963, 64; F- S- 1962, 64, 69, 70, 73; D- 1964-66, 73; M- 1963-65, 69; W- S- 1963, 65, 70; D- 1964, 69; M- 1963, 65, 66, 68, 75; U- S- 1962, 65, 69, 70, 73; D- 1963, 68, 70, 73, 75; M- 1961-65, 69, 70, 72
All time record holder for most slam titles in singles and overall. She won the calendar Grand Slam in singles in 1970 and mixed in 1963. Was the second player ever to win a calendar slam in singles, and second ever to complete the full set of slam titles in a career, and the first to win every slam title more than once. Shares the record for most consecutive slam singles titles won with 6. Won the "triple crown" at the Australian in 1963, the French in 1964, and the US in 1970. Despite a couple of maternity breaks, was able to return to the top of the sport. Records were spotty for her era, but is believed to have win and title totals similar to Navratilova's. (A tally by the Blast folks had her at over 190 career singles titles, although it's unclear how many would be considered "tour level".) Was one of the first woman players to work hard on physical conditioning, training with the Aussie men.
Did you know-- Court lost in the 1960 Australian junior girls competition 2 days before winning the women's singles title.
58. Billie Jean King
GS titles won: A- S-1968; M-1968; F- S-1972; D-1972; M- 1967, 70; W- S- 1966-68, 72, 73, 75; D- 1961, 62, 65, 67, 68, 70-73, 79; M- 1967, 71, 73, 74; U- S- 1967, 71, 72, 74; D- 1964, 67, 74, 78, 80; M- 1967, 71, 73, 76
Tennis legend around whom the modern tour was built in 1970. In addition to having a hand in founding what would become the WTA Tour, she also founded World Team Tennis and the Women's Sports Foundation. Won a record 20 Wimbledon titles. Won the triple crown at Wimbledon in 1967 and 1973, and the US in 1967. Partnered Owen Davidson to the last three legs of his mixed Grand Slam in 1967. She won a non-calendar mixed Grand Slam in 1967-68. In her first full year on the world circuit, after finishing college, she won her first GS singles title and finished at #1. A rare player to win a slam title in 3 different decades. She competed in slam singles draws in 4 different decades. Was oldest player to win a WTA Tour singles title. Was one of the first woman players to work out with weights.
Did you know-- King's younger brother is former San Francisco Giants pitcher Randy Moffitt.
59. Adrienne Shirley "Ann" Haydon Jones
GS titles won: F- S- 1961, 66; D- 1963, 68, 69; W- S-1969; M-1969
One of the last great British players, and the last to hold the #1 ranking. She retired after finally winning Wimbledon in 1969.
Did you know-- the BBC forced Jones to remove a Pepsi logo from her bag before the 1969 Wimbledon final, and the AELTC threatened to disqualify her.
60. Lesley Turner
GS titles won: A- D- 1964, 65, 67; M- 1962, 67; F- S- 1963, 65; D- 1964-66; W- D-1964; M- 1961, 64; U-D-1961
61. Jan Lehane
GS titles won: A- M- 1960, 61
First woman player known to use a two-handed backhand, later followed by Peaches Bartkowicz then Chris Evert.
62. Federation Cup
Establshed by the ITF in 1963 in celebration of their 50th anniversary. It was to be a women's equivalent to Davis Cup, albeit with a different format. For over 3 decades, Federation Cup was held at one site over a one week period. This format proved to be a big money loser, as most of the premium seats were given away to officials from the 32 participating federations. In 1995, it went to a format similar to Davis Cup, with home and away ties for World Group teams. This proved to be quite successful, but didn't prevent the ITF from using Fed Cup as a test lab for different formats. This constant tinkering has had a detrimental effect on the competiton which, even after 40 years, has yet to receive its proper respect from tennis officials or media.
63. Judy Tegart Dalton
GS titles won: A- D- 1964, 67, 69, 70; M-1966; W-D-1969; U- D- 1970, 71
64. Nancy Richey Gunter
GS titles won: A- S-1967; D-1966; F-S-1968; W-D-1966; U- D- 1965, 66
Won the first Open grand slam singles event.
65. Françoise Durr
GS titles won: F- S-1967; D- 1967-71; M- 1968, 71, 73; W-M-1976; U- D- 1969, 72
An interesting player with a self-described "oonique" backhand. It should surprise no one that she was self-taught. Also known for having a very slow, although heavily spun, serve, which wouldn't even register on early radar guns. She is the last French-born player to win a GS singles title.
66. Rosemary "Rosie" Casals
GS titles won: W- D- 1967, 68, 70, 71, 73; M- 1970, 72; U- D- 1967, 71, 74, 82; M-1975
Part of one of the all-time great doubles teams, partnering Billie Jean King. She also was one of the main players who joined King on the new women's tour in 1970, placing her own grand slam career in jeopardy.
67. Post-war pre-Open era GS champions
Beryl Penrose (A- S-1955; D- 1954, 55; M-1956); Mary Carter Reitano (A- S- 1956, 59; D-1961); Joyce Fitch (A-D-1946); Mary Bevis (A-D-1946); Julie Sampson (A- D-1953; M-1953); Mary Hawton (A- D- 1954-6, 58; M-1958); Sandra Reynolds Price (A- D-1959; M-1959; F- D- 1959, 61, 62); Robyn Ebbern (A- D- 1962, 63; U-D-1963); Carole Caldwell Graebner (A-D-1966; U-D-1965); Karen Krantzcke (A-D-1968); Patricia Canning Todd (F- S-1947; D-1948; M-1948; W-D-1947); Nelly Adamson Landry (F-S-1948); Shirley Bloomer Brasher (F- S-1957; D-1957; M-1958); Suzi Kormoczy (F-S-1958); Beverly Baker Fleitz (F-D-1955); Angela Buxton (F-D-1956; W-D-1956); Rosie Reyes (F-D-1958); Yola Ramirez (F- D-1958; M-1959); Sheila Summers (F- M- 1947, 49; W-M-1949); Barbara Sudfield (F-M-1950); Vera Puzejova Sukova (F-M-1957); Annette van Zyl du Plooy (F-M-1966); Anne Shilcock (W-D-1955); Jeanne Arth (W-D-1959; U- D- 1958, 59); Lorraine Coghlan (W-M-1958); Karen Hantze Susman (W-S-1962; D- 1961, 62; U-D-1964); Donna Floyd Fales (U-M-1966)
68. Sarah Virginia Wade
GS titles won: A- S-1972; D-1973; F-D-1973; W-S-1977; U- S-1968; D- 1973, 75
Last great British player, and last to win a GS singles title. Played a record 24 consecutive Wimbledon main draws.
69. The original tennis "Super 9"
When the Open era began, not surprisingly the prize money at tournaments was slanted in favor of the men. In contrast to what was going on in society at large, tennis proceeded to move away from equalty instead of toward it. By the 1970 US Open, where they were only receiving 1/3rd of what the men were, several prominent women were speaking out. They even threatened a boycott of the upcoming Pacific Southwest Open, where chauvanistic promoter Jack Kramer was offering the women about 1/10th what the men got (and said they were lucky to get that much). As expected, the women got zero support from the men. Even Arthur Ashe, in a moment he later regretted, said that no one would pay to see the women, and women's tennis would fade away.
So it came to pass that a group of women, led by Bilie Jean King, broke away to play their own tournaments, and form what would become the WTA Tour. The original "Super 9" were: Peaches Bartkowitz, Rosie Casals, Judy Dalton, Julie Heldman, Billie Jean King, Kerry Melville, Kristy Pigeon, Nancy Richey, and Valerie Ziegenfuss. These 9 were immediately suspended by the Lawn Tennis associations, and hence banned from participating in slams. But they were willing to sacrifice that in order to build a better tour for women players.
70. Gladys Heldman
When the "Super 9" women decided to break away, they got help administering the new venture from World Tennis publisher Gladys Heldman. She used her contacts to acquire sponsorship and venues for the initial tournaments and the subsequent tour. Having such a prominent ally on board gave the fledgling tour a good jump start.
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