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Old Jul 25th, 2004, 08:50 AM   #6
country flag Brian Stewart
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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.

Last edited by Brian Stewart : Nov 10th, 2004 at 10:54 AM.
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