Serve and Volley-40's tennis
A thread for a forgotten era-the 1940's. World War two left Europe in ruins, and American women were so dominant they won all the major events(The Aussie wasn't a big event then) in that decade except for one, won by Belgian Nelly Landry.
An article on the first Aussie great-Nancye Bolton. Many think she would have been a Margaret Court if only Aussie officials hadn't been so cheap and sexist towards the women. In this era Aussie men got money to travel overseas to Wimbledon and Europe, while the women were usually left behind in Australia.
Pioneer empowered women's game
By SELMA MILOVANOVIC
Wednesday 14 November 2001
Nancye Bolton was a tennis player ahead of her time.
When straight-laced, genteel lobs over the net were the norm in the 1940s, she peppered the court with blitzing forehands.
She looked different, too - towering over other players at 180 centimetres, she broke the prim, "lady-in-white" tennis tradition with a knotted handkerchief around her neck on hot days.
Bolton died last Friday, aged 84, but her innovative playing style and off-court popularity have etched her memory deep into Australia's tennis history.
Bolton was 19 when she first competed in the Australian final in 1936. She lost to Joan Hartigan, but came back the following year to claim the crown. By 1952, she was the winner of six Australian titles, 10 doubles and four mixed titles.
"What made her special was the sort of boyish freedom and her attacking stroke," tennis historian Paul Metzler said from Sydney. "There was never a dull moment when she played. If it was getting a bit quiet, she would crash three winners and bring the crowd to its feet."
But her natural ability to win and fierce determination to stay on top was borne out of hard times.
In 1942, her husband, Air Force Sergeant Peter Bolton, was killed in the Second World War, leaving her with a four-month-old daughter, Pam.
As Nancye Wynne, she had already claimed two Australian titles - in 1937 and 1940 - as well as being the first Australian woman to reach the United States singles final in 1938. And nothing was going to stop her winning streak.
"Nancye Wynne was a very appropriate name because she won every damned thing and then she became Nancye Bolton and she bolted," Metzler said.
As soon as the war ended, Bolton resumed her reign in Australian tennis.
Wylma Smith, a Melbourne and country championships player for many years, remembers a chance encounter with her idol when Bolton was in the twilight of her tennis career. Smith was playing with Glen Iris, where Bolton had come to fill in for a doubles match with East Malvern. Even now, the memory draws a gasp from a fan who followed Bolton's every tennis move. "I don't think I could hit the ball in the court," Smith said.
Always a crowd-pleaser, Bolton had no time for on-court tantrums. Exciting tennis was all she cared for, but she spared a thought for the underdog.
"If she was playing in the doubles with someone who was more of a battler, her attitude was, 'Don't you throw that ball at her on the net or you might cop it yourself'," Smith said.
Bolton left tennis in 1952, but the glory did not stop there. By 1976, she had won 17 club championships at Kew Golf Club. At 52, she was even a runner-up for the Victorian title.
Then it was lawn bowls, at Auburn Heights.
She was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000.
"There was a carefree thing about Nancye Bolton's play that nobody else has ever approached," Metzler said.
Thanx Rollo for the article..... here's some other info on this Aussie champ Nancye Wynne Bolton....
She was once ranked by Norman Brooks in the mid 50's in the top 10 women of all time but he did say she was brilliant but erratic.
Her serve was very strong, as was the forehand but could go missing.
She was constantly in trouble with the stuffy LTAV, not asking permission to play in tournaments in Dubbo and Wagga therefore banned from exhibitions for a month!
She hit a ball in the 1940 Aus titles into the gallery and it landed near the govenor of New South Wales. She was rebuked and told that if the team about to tour New Zealand was an official one she would have been banned.
Her husband was killed in an air raid over Cologne.
Louise Brough was her nemesis after the war losing in qtrs at Wimbledon, semis at Forest Hills blowing a 5-2 40-0 in the thrid to lose 7-5. She held a no. 4 ranking for that year.
Bolton and Thelma Coyne Long won the Aus doubles title 10 times.
Sam asked about Gussie Moran: here's a good link and long article on her>
Her "knickers" caused the Wimbledon officials to get their own knickers in a bunch in 1949. It was Ted Tingling who designed
them. He talks about them at length in his books "White Ladies and "Love and Faults".
Gussie was good enough to make the semis of the US nationals in 1948, but after her panties became famous her sex-pot image overshadowed everything else. She gave tons of photographers, boys, and dirty men bad backs, as they often could be seen lying on their stomachs at ground level looking up to get a peek at her panties.
By 1950 she decided to strike while she could and turned pro, almost unheard of for women in those days. Her opponent was 46 Wimbledon winner Pauline Betz. When they opened the pro tour in Madison Square Garden Pauline upstaged Gussie by coming out in hot leopard shorts!:eek: The tour only lasted one year(Betz killed Moran), and because she had turned pro Moran couldn't return to amateur tennis.
She dated lots of movie stars and almost married an Indian maharajah.
Oh-and she advertised luggage in tennis magazines as late as the 1960s. Guess the memory of her lasted!
Here's a link. Click on "Tennis fashion".
This is her in 1968.
American tennis star Gussie Moran made headlines with her trademark frilly underpants (which she modeled, along with a revealing tennis outfit, on the roof of a London department store in 1968). But she wasn't thrilled: "After the lace panties, everyone was always staring to see what I was wearing and I couldn't concentrate on tennis," she told London's Daily Express in 1949.
Apparently she influenced our language as well:
From W S Penn: "My searching for the origins of gussied up has been noticeably a failure in finding anything other than "origin obscure". It is used for something or someone that is all dressed up or fancy. Anything you have would be appreciated."
Actually, "origin obscure" is a pretty fair summary, but I can put some flesh on the bones.
As you say, something gussied up has been made more attractive, but in a showy or gimmicky way, so it's often not intended to be a compliment. It can also refer to dressing in one's finery for some special occasion, when it is intended to be taken more straightforwardly. It is usually considered to be an American expression, dating from the late 1930s or thereabouts. So it's a little odd that the first recorded use of gussy as a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary comes from a British source, Morris Marple's Public School Slang of 1940, though that doesn't refer explicitly to a verb.
Many people associate the term with more recent events. The American tennis player "Gorgeous Gussie" Moran is best remembered for appearing at Wimbledon in 1949 wearing frilly panties, which caused considerable interest and controversy. Could she have been linked to the phrase? Apart from that odd 1940 example, the first attested use given in the OED and other dictionaries is from 1952, which would fit nicely.
It is possible that the publicity associated with her Wimbledon appearance helped the verb along, and may even have generated gussy up from the existing noun, gussie. But all this is speculation, alas, and we may never know the precise circumstances attached to its invention.
There is a Katherine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy moive called "pat and Mike"(1952) which has Gussie Moran and Alice Marble as tennis players in bit parts. Might be worth a look:)
Here's another famous woman from the 1940's -Doris Hart. Hart wrote a book I'd like to read (Hart on Hart)covering her career. Doris came up with Shirley Fry right after Louise Brough and Margaret duPont. Hart and Fry were about the only doubles Team that could give Brough/DuPont trouble. Doris had some epic doubles matches with her two rivals.
In 1951 Hart won Wimbledon and was at last #1, but later that year a little dynamo named Mo Connolly stormed onto the scene.
Notice her right knee. She suffered from this as a child. It was often wrongly written that she had polio when young.
"Hart To Hart" is a nice read - Miss Hart is *very* modest when describing her accomplishments. Her comments on her loss to Maureen Connolly in the US 51 semi are interesting...
FYI, I've seen "Pat & Mike", a typically entertaining Hepburn and Tracy "road" movie of the period. KH is the pro sportwoman under ST's management, and from the footage shown in the movie (when's she's playing Gussie Moran), it's really obvious Miss Hepburn could definitely play, and play well. I also remember reading an article on her in which she stated how much she loved playing and best of all, it was accompanied by an old b&w photo of her, sometime during the late 30's I would guess, looking totally divine in a white "cocktail" style tennis dress, having just hit a forehand with perfect form (and serious intent!) :)
Hi Rboi:wavey: I look forward to more of your posts. You sound like the best read poster of us all!
Katherine Hepburn is one of my all-time favs. "Bringing Up Baby" always gets a laugh out of me no matter how many times I see it.
I'll keep an eye out for "Pat and Mike".
What did Doris have to say about "Mo"? The story about how Connolly coach filled her with lies about Hart because she was Mo's idol is a classic! Poor Doris-working so hard for years as a perennial #3, finally passing her older rivals in 1951 and briefly getting to #1-just in time to get run over by Connolly.
Here's another Hart pic I found with her doubles partner Fry.
A list of some of Hart's acheivements. She was quite versatile and able to win on all surfaces.
Doris Hart (b.1925), a prolific champion with 325 major titles, was the second woman after Maureen Connolly to win all four Grand Slam singles events. Remarkably, Hart achieved her record despite an impaired leg resulting from a childhood iillness.
Stricken with osteomyelitis at 15months, Hart recovered with the support of her parents and her brother, who taught her tennis. By age 16 Hart was ranked in the Top 10 where she stayed through 1955. In 1947 while a University of Miami undergraduate, she won her first Grand Slam title, the women's doubles at Wimbledon.
With her superb racket control Hart developed a greater variety of shots than any other player of her day. A legendary doubles player, Hart teamed with Shirley Fry to win 11 major championships. She was among the first women to take the Wimbledon triple crown in 1951 and the French in 1952. In 1954 she earned the No.1 ranking with a triple crown at the U.S. nationals, retaining her ranking in 1955. She won the USTA Service Bowl Award that same year.
Hart retired from play after 1955 and became a teaching professional. A member of the U.S Wightman Cup Team from 1946 to 1955, Hart served as Captain of the winning 1970 U.S. Team.
35 Grand Slam titles (6 Singles, 14 Doubles, 15 Mixed Doubles)
Ranked in USTA Top 10 from 1942 to 1955; No.1 in 1954 and 1955
Three Grand Slam Triple Crowns (Wimbledon 1951, France 1952, U.S. 1954)
Winner of USTA Girls' Sportsmanship Award 1943
U.S. Girls' 18 Champion in Singles (1942, 1943) and Doubles (1940, 1943)
U.S. Singles Champion 1954, 1955
U.S. Doubles Champion 1951- 1954
U.S. Mixed Doubles Champion 1951-1955
Wimbledon Singles Champion 1951
Wimbledon Doubles Champion 1947, 1951-1953
Wimbledon Mixed Doubles Champion 1951-1955
French Singles Champion 1950, 1952
French Doubles Champion 1948, 1950-1953
French Mixed Doubles Champion 1951-1953
Australian Singles Champion 1949
Australian Doubles Champion 1950
Australian Mixed Doubles Champion 1949, 1950
U.S. Clay Court Champion in Singles (1950) and Doubles (1944, 1945, 1950, 1954)
U.S. Indoor Champion in Doubles and Mixed Doubles 1947, 1948
U.S. Hard Court Champion in Singles and Mixed Doubles 1949
U.S. Wightman Cup Team Member 1946-1955 (21-1 record); Team Captain 1970
Winner of USTA Service Bowl 1955
Author, Tennis with Hart
Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame 1969
U.S. Grass Court and Indoor Women's 55 Doubles Champion 1981
Probably the best of the 40s amazons was Pauline "Bobby" Betz. She had 5 grand slams-with 3 of those coming during World War 2. After the war she was the woman to beat, winning Wimbledon and the US in 1946 and mising a triple by a hair when Osbourne(duPunt) saved a match point in the French final. In 1947 the USTA suspended her and Sarah Palfrey for TALKING about turning pro. They played each other briefly, but Pauline was never again allowed to compete at Wimbledon or other amateur events.
In 1960 there was a little known women's pro tournament in Cleveland. This unique event was the only women's pro tennis tournament until the Open era. Pauline Betz barely lost the final to Althea Gibson 7-5 in the third.
Pauline at Wimbledon-1946
From the ITA:
Paulinen Betz Addie (b.1919), four-time U.S. singles champion in the 1940's, was renowned for her peerless backhand and 'killer instinct.' When international play resumed after World War II, Betz became one of a handful of champions to win on her first try at Wimbledon in 1946.
Raised in Los Angeles, Betz learned tennis on public courts. She was offered a scholarship by Rollins College where she played Np.4 on the men's team and graduated as the top economics student in 1943. Letz later earned an M.A. in economics from Columbia University.
As an undergraduate in 1942, Betz won her first U.S. singles title. She repeated her victory in 1943 and 1944 and triumphed at both Wimbledon and Forest Hills in 1946. That year she also played a key role on the U.S. Wightman Cup team, dubbed the 'Betz Club.'
Betz turned professional in 1947, enjoying a 13-year undefeated career on tour with such notables as Don Budge and Bobby Riggs. In 1949 she married Washington Post sportswriter Bob Addie. After retiring as a player she remained an active teaching professional while raising her five children.
Her best shot-a running backhand
She had a habit of jumping the net after big wins
After the 1944 US final with runnerup Osbourne(duPont)
She made the cover of Time magazine in late 1946 as the image of the all American girl.
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