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Old Jun 10th, 2005, 12:31 AM   #1
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Little Mo if she were around today......

I was watching the documentary about Maureen Connelly again today on the tennis channel, and one comment that was made still kinda stood out at me and I figured I would bring it out.

Now if it has already been talked about on here, I apologize but I did not see a thread about it.

I have forgotten already, but I think it was either Maureen's husband or mentor of some sort that made a real bold statement in saying that if Maureen were around today with everything tennis would have to offer her, she probably still be a domintating force on tour even today.

Does anyone actually agree with that sort of statement? I realize she was a dominating presense in her day but wasn't she all of 5-3? About as tall as Amanda Coetzer or Ai Sugiyama?

Mo was super speedy, knew how to volley and was very aggressive, but I have to believe that even with all of today's equipment and devotion to fitness, Mo would not have been able to dominate the top players considering how much taller and stronger the women are today.

Now, put Maureen at Justine Henin-Hardenne's height and wow what an amazing player we would have on tour today.

Any thoughts folks?
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Old Jun 10th, 2005, 12:46 AM   #2
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Hmmm...it's an interesting question Jakeev.

To my mind the real question is: how tall a player would have to be to get by and be #1? Is Connolly the shortest #1 ever?

Of course Mo wasn't a net rusher-but 5 ft 2 is still mighty short. Are we sure of her height though? It's easy to be a couple of inches off-and a couple of inches can make all the difference-I must have read 100 times that Rosie Casals was just too short to win majors. She just an inch or so shorter than Billie Jean King......

Even if we go with the idea that Mo WOULD be too short today there is one other consideration.

In "today's" world she would probably be taller anyway due to better nutrition, etc. Ditto for weight training. etc. If that put her at Justine Henin's height and condition we can assume she'd be bloody hard to beat!
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Old Jun 10th, 2005, 02:50 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Rollo
Hmmm...it's an interesting question Jakeev.

To my mind the real question is: how tall a player would have to be to get by and be #1? Is Connolly the shortest #1 ever?

Of course Mo wasn't a net rusher-but 5 ft 2 is still mighty short. Are we sure of her height though? It's easy to be a couple of inches off-and a couple of inches can make all the difference-I must have read 100 times that Rosie Casals was just too short to win majors. She just an inch or so shorter than Billie Jean King......

Even if we go with the idea that Mo WOULD be too short today there is one other consideration.

In "today's" world she would probably be taller anyway due to better nutrition, etc. Ditto for weight training. etc. If that put her at Justine Henin's height and condition we can assume she'd be bloody hard to beat!
I am pretty sure in her documentary it was said she was between 5-2/5-3.
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Old Jun 10th, 2005, 05:14 AM   #4
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I'm not 100% sure but I think Maureen was about 5ft. 3. I've seen photos of her next to Teach Tennant and Tennant was 5ft. 6 and Connolly looks a few inches shorter than that.

Mary K. Browne I think was only 5ft. 2 inches. I don't think she was ever ranked #1 in the world but I'm pretty sure she was #1 in the US at one time.

Connolly, from what I've read, had very thick strong legs. She actually hit with a lot more power than people realize, but more important she lived only to win. Coetzer and Sugiyama did pretty well on the tour despite being short but both players lacked the one thing Maureen had in abundance...mental toughness. I think Maureen would be all over players such as Kim, Venus, Amelie, Patty and Lindsay. Players who tend to have mental melt downs on the court. I could see Maureen making her way through a draw today and of course in the finals she'd be playing Justine much of the time. A player not much bigger than her. Have to say I'd love to see Justine and Maureen play each other
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Old Jun 10th, 2005, 05:52 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by RoanHJ
I'm not 100% sure but I think Maureen was about 5ft. 3. I've seen photos of her next to Teach Tennant and Tennant was 5ft. 6 and Connolly looks a few inches shorter than that.

Mary K. Browne I think was only 5ft. 2 inches. I don't think she was ever ranked #1 in the world but I'm pretty sure she was #1 in the US at one time.

Connolly, from what I've read, had very thick strong legs. She actually hit with a lot more power than people realize, but more important she lived only to win. Coetzer and Sugiyama did pretty well on the tour despite being short but both players lacked the one thing Maureen had in abundance...mental toughness. I think Maureen would be all over players such as Kim, Venus, Amelie, Patty and Lindsay. Players who tend to have mental melt downs on the court. I could see Maureen making her way through a draw today and of course in the finals she'd be playing Justine much of the time. A player not much bigger than her. Have to say I'd love to see Justine and Maureen play each other
You are right that Maureen was probably one of the most mentally tough players in the history of tennis.

And I agree perhaps because of her aggressive, take-it-her attitude on court, she probably would have driven everyone nuts on slower surfaces.

But on faster courts? I don't know. I still would have to believe her height would hinder her chances of not getting blown off the court by the sheer power of her bigger and stronger opponents.

However, I would have loved to have just seen her personality come out in today's game. She just was such a loving, wonderful human being.
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Old Jun 10th, 2005, 01:17 PM   #6
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I think from seeing footage of her in action, that she would indeed dominate any of today's top players, with one proviso: standard size racquets. Conversely, it's also fair to guess that, much like Hingis, she'd have a tough time staying with big babe Bollettieri baseline bashing even with a Weed racquet and 10 years at the academy. I'd love to see a tournament with all the current top women playing with a standard size frame. You'd really see some horrible tennis, with possibly Justine winning. The great Pauline Betz Addie mentioned last year that she was flattered when her game was compared favorably with Connolly's groundstrokes, and that they had much in common- not such a great serve, and no volley or overhead to speak of. What is funny is her follow-up "didn't need them"!
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Old Jun 13th, 2005, 11:41 AM   #7
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Did anybody ever see Connolly play? I'm intrigued as to how she hit the ball. A big forehand, apparently.

Can videos of Connolly be bought from anywhere?
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Old Jun 13th, 2005, 08:40 PM   #8
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I have no doubt that were she a competitor in today's era Maureen Connolly would have been a dominating factor, for many of the reasons already given. As Rollo says she could be a vital inch or two taller. With access to all today's advantages in technology and fitness regimes she would be competing with the biggest hitters. Look how J2H modelled her game to compete with the Williams sisters. Serve does not play a massive part in the women's game even on grass nowadays and her return of serve would immediately get her into any point. As Roan points out the one thing she had in abundance was mental toughness and IMO this is a good 50% of the equation. She quite simply refused to lose and she would have the ability to make her opponent always play that one extra shot giving an added opportunity of an error.

Below is an article published in World Tennis in 1958 concerning the Supreme Court of California ruling in the final appeal of Connolly v. Pre-Mixed Concrete Company. There are some very interesting facts there and it gives actual details of the accident:


A calm judicial appraisal of the financial return which a tennis champion can reasonably expect, forms the hard core of a recent decision of the Supreme Court of California, whuch unanimously affirmed the $95,000 award, made by a jury to Maureen Connolly, who had been severely injured while horseback riding in July 1954. The judgment of the trial court was appealed on two principal grounds: the question of negligence and a claim that the large sum awarded was excessive.

In disposing of the contention that the defendant, a company selling concrete mixed in a transit-mixer on the way to the job, the Court, in the opinion written by Chief Justice Gibson, reviewed the history of the accident in considerable detail. The testimony showed that the big truck, with its drum revolving and making considerable noise as it turned, and with a faulty exhaust pipe which added to the racket, made a left turn off the highway, into a side road eighteen feet in width. It was going at a rate of about fifteen miles per hour and could have stopped within twenty feet. Miss Connolly, with two other girls, was riding along the side road toward the main highway, Miss Connolly and a companion on one shoulder and the third girl on the other. Their horses immediately showed signs of fright and they waved to the driver in an effort to stop him. According to his testimony, he saw the girls waving but decided that the best way to avoid an accident would be to get beyond them with his noisy vehicle and so did not stop. As he approached the three riders, he was watching the single girl to his right as her horse seemed to him to be in danger of going down the bank, and he swerved his truck to the left to avoid hitting her. Miss Connolly's horse whirled and her right leg was caught by the left rear mudguard of the truck and she was thrown to the ground. The muscles of her leg were torn loose below the knee and the bone was exposed. She was hospitalized for ten days and had to wear a cast for several weeks.

The defendant concrete trucking company contended that Miss Connolly had had time to dismount when she saw the danger that confronted her, that her horse had whirled before putting her on notice that it was easily frightened, and that she might have taken a bridle path to reach her destination instead of riding along a public road. It also defended the action of its driver, claiming that he took a "last clear chance" to avoid the accident when he decided to get by the horses and remove the noisy truck from the scene as quickly as possible. The Supreme Court, however, held that the jury had properly passed on the question of negligence after hearing all of the testimony, and that its determination, that the driver of the transit-mix truck in its noise-making condition was guilty of negligence, must stand.

Turning to the question of whether the $95,000 verdict was excessive, the Supreme Court first stated the general rule saying: "Nor can we agree that the judgment must be reversed on the ground that the damages awarded were excessive. The general rule is that the amount of damages fixed by a jury and thereafter approved by the trial court on denial of motion for a new trial will not be disturbed on appeal unless the evidence shows that the award is so disproportionate to any reasonable limit of compensation as to indicate that it was the result of passion, prejudice or corruption on the part of the trier of fact."

Concerning the nature of MIss Connolly's injuries, the opinion pointed out at this point, that considerable muscular tissue had been destroyed, that there was a 40% loss of blood supply to the right foot, that the pulse at the top of the right foot had been considerably weakened and at times was absent, and that there had been testimony by a physician to the effect that she probably would encounter substantial difficulty in the use of her right foot in middle and older age.

After reviewing in considerable detail Miss Connolly's tennis career and listing the championships she had won, the Supreme Court proceeded to an analysis of the testimpony concerning her probable future earnings as a professional. It said:

"Plaintiff made several attempts to play tennis after the accident but found that shooting pains developed in her leg, and she stopped playing the game because of her injuries.

"The accident occured in July 1954, and it had been plaintiff's intention to take part in the United States championship tournament and then turn professional in October. She planned to go on a three-months professional tennis tour, for which she had been offered a percentage of the receipts, with a guarantee of $30,000. It was estimated that she would have recieved $62,500 if the tour had extended outside the United States, that she would have received additional revenue from various sources, such as endorsements of sporting goods and other articles, and that she would have cleared $50,000 during that year. Other witnesses estimated that her earnings during her first year as a professional would have been $75,000. There was evidence that the plaintiff had not yet reached the peak of her career and that she could expect at least seven or eight years' participation as a professional."

Who were these expert witnesses who cme to Miss Connolly's aid with their testimony in regard to her probable future earnings? With the usual lack of concern for anything except the facts disclosed and the legal principles involved, the Court does not bother to name them. It does give descriptions of three of them:

"The witnesses who testified as to plaintiff's earning capacity had extensive knowledge of professional tennis, and their opinions were based on their experience and information concerning the amounts earned by other tennis players. One of the witnesses had been a professional tennis champion for six years and had conducted two professional tours. Another witness, who had been connected with tennis for thirty-six years had been on the Australian Davis Cup team for a number of years and was a tennis writer for a newpaper. The third witness, the sports director for a broadcasting system, had been a champion athlete and was familiar with the earning capacity of champion tennis players."

To take the argument that Miss Connolly , as an amateur never had demonstrated the actual earning power, the Court added: " Loss of earning power is an element of general damages which can be inferred from the nature of the injury, without proof of the actual earnings or income either before or after the injury, and damages in this respect are awarded for the loss of ability thereafter to earn momey."

The closing paragraph of the opinion reads: "When consideration is given to the circumstances, inclusing the loss of earning power and the nature of the injury, we cannot say that the verdict is excessive."


According to this then Maureen would have been lost to the amateur game later in 1954 so there would not have been much more to add to her career record.

I don't know how inflation has worked in the US so I wonder how much $95,000 in the late 50s would be worth in today's terms?

Certainly her tragic death in 1969 was a tremendous loss to the tennis world for she had much to contribute as a mentor and coach. But for Maureen, Ann Jones would have ended up as an also ran with the one French title to her credit.

Maureen was asked to coach the British 1965 British Wightman Cup team. At this stage Jones who had more or less been relegated to the status of a housewife playing tennis since the beginning of 1964 and was on the verge of retiring was introduced to Mo who made her reconsider her whole attitude to the game and decide to continue. She responded by beating her personal nemesis Billie Jean Moffitt in their WC rubber and then, on grass a surface on which BJ normally tramped all over her they played a pulsating first set of 16-14 at Forest Hills. A reinvigorated Jones made 6 Slam finals in the next 4 years winning another French beating Bueno in a match some commentators rate more highly than her 69 Wimbledon win over Court and Wimbledon in 1969 including the Court win. Over the course of those four years Ann would go and stay with Maureen in her now home state of Texas. Ann says Maureen used to talk to her long into the night and it was the inspiration and guidance she received from these sessions which were ultimately responsible for her Wimbledon triumph.

I find it hard to judge players from the early part of the 20th century and while most would have Connolly around the #6 or so in an all time list, I would place her as the #1 post WWII player ahead of Court and Graf.
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Old Jun 13th, 2005, 09:47 PM   #9
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Steffica Greles Did anybody ever see Connolly play? I'm intrigued as to how she hit the ball. A big forehand, apparently.
I never saw her play, but I've talked to Louise Brough about 3 times, and she said Mo was the without doubt the hardest woman she ever hit against. Jack Kramer (a star from the 40's) was convinced she would crush Chris Evert by hitting her off the court. Ted Tinling, who saw them all from the 20's to the 90's, ranked her up there.

She was a killer baseliner a la Graf-except Mo didn't have Steffi's great serve, and Connolly had an aggressive topspin backhand.

Tiny Justine Henin can hold her own versus the power-babes Mo would too. Heck, tiny Justine IS A POWER BABE.

I'd expect no less of Mo Connolly



Quote:
Can videos of Connolly be bought from anywhere?
If you go to Mo's website you can order "Unforgettable", a documentary which shows some footage. Tennisvideos might be able to hook you up to a full match.

Here is the Connolly site:

http://www.mcbtennis.org/

There are some short clips of her on this site.

Last edited by Rollo : Jun 13th, 2005 at 10:02 PM.
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Old Jun 13th, 2005, 09:57 PM   #10
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Wow Chris

Thanks for the write-up on Mo's lawsuit. That's about the fullest report I've ever seen. I'd never realized there were 3 women riding. In "Unforgetable" a relative said Mo almost bleed to death out on that road.


As you're such an Ann Jones fan it means something when you write
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But for Maureen, Ann Jones would have ended up as an also ran with the one French title to her credit.
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Old Jun 13th, 2005, 10:08 PM   #11
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I think her instructional book sums up her style and attittude-Power Tennis (1954) made it clear why she was named for a battleship!

Excerpts from the book.
http://tennis.quickfound.net/trainin...lly_index.html


And some other quotes:

"On clay, Chris [Evert] and Maureen Connolly are close. Maureen hardly ever lost a match, winning Wimbledon at 16, 17, and 18... She and Chris are very similar-- great, great baseliners. If anything, Maureen might have been a little swifter and quicker around the court than Chris. Maureen would have beaten Martina [Navratilova] on clay. Its questionable whether Maureen would have beaten her on a hardcourt. On grass I like Martina."
Bobby Riggs, quoted in Tennis Confidential by Paul Fein


"Whenever a great player comes along you have to ask, 'Could she have beaten Maureen?' In every case the answer is, I think not."
London Daily Telegraph tennis correspondent Lance Tingay
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Old Jun 13th, 2005, 10:16 PM   #12
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While Mo was later universally adored-cute and cuddly she was NOT in her prime.

http://tennis.quickfound.net/history...lly_index.html

From Time magazine July 14, 1952.

SPORT: Little Mo Grows Up
Britain was not quite prepared for lean, well weathered (57) Tennis Coach Eleanor ("Teach") Tennant and her apple-cheeked San Diego prodigy, Maureen ("Little Mo") Connolly. Expecting to greet the same girlish, hard-playing bobby-soxer who wept with joy last September over winning the U.S. Women's title, English tennis fans were soon puzzling over a change in Little Mo. By the time she walked on to Wimbledon's center court last week for the Women's Singles finals, it was obvious what it was: Little Mo had changed into Killer Connolly.
From the moment she landed at London's airport late last May, Maureen had settled down to work with an awesome determination. Smashing her way to victory, she swept unchecked through the Grass Courts Singles titles at Surbiton and Manchester. It was big news whenever she dropped a set. Playing the all-out attacking game--volleys, overheads, attack with the serve--that Coach Tennant had drilled her on all winter, she moved into the early rounds at Wimbledon with machine-like precision.
"You Have To Be Mean..." There was an unladylike grimness about Maureen's playing that shocked most proper Britons into grudging admiration--and a wish to see her roundly trounced. Cried London's Daily Telegraph: "The big thrill the center court crowd so eagerly awaits... the defeat of the 17-year-old, much-vaunted American champion... is still to come." Teach snorted scornfully in reply: "She's out to kill them. You have to be mean to be a champion. How can you lick someone if you feel friendly toward them?"
Nothing halted Maureen's progress. Two of her early-round British opponents crisply praised Maureen's cannonball abandon, but also felt compelled to chalk up their defeats to the heat. The heat made no difference to Killer Connolly. Cool and unperturbed, despite a painfully sore shoulder, she kept dancing her little baseline jig, running her rivals ragged with hard-hit placements, only occasionally coming to the net to volley.
In the top bracket of the All-American semifinals, Maureen blasted Akron's steady Shirley Fry off the court, 6-4, 6-3, with unreachable placements. Then, appearing in a purplish cardigan designed by London's Teddy Tinling (who also designed Gussie Moran's lace panties), she faced Louise Brough, three-time (1948-50) Wimbledon champion, who upset Maureen last May to win the Southern California crown.
"All Up in the Air." Maureen went right to work. Again & again, her sharp-angled shots left Veteran (29) Brough standing flatfooted on the baseline. When Brough tried to slow Maureen up with a change of pace or drop shots, Maureen scampered all over the court, turning retrieves into unreturnable volleys, smashes and passing shots. In the first set she broke through Brough's service to win 7-5. After losing the first two games of the second set, she settled down to win five straight games before dropping one. Moments later, Maureen's unnerved opponent fluffed a serve into the net and the match was over, 7-5, 6-3. Crying "Whoopee!", Britain's new champion, its second youngest American titleist,* shook hands with Loser Brough and raced happily to take the trophy plate from the Duchess of Kent.
After hugging Teach in her dressing room, Maureen rushed off for a television appearance, a press conference, and to dress for the Wimbledon dance. "Everything is so wonderful," she burbled, sounding just like Little Mo again. "I'm all up in the air."
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Old Jun 14th, 2005, 01:36 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Rollo
"Whenever a great player comes along you have to ask, 'Could she have beaten Maureen?' In every case the answer is, I think not."
London Daily Telegraph tennis correspondent Lance Tingay

Trying to compare players of different eras can only, at best, be conjecture. But I think the opinion of a recognised connoisseur of tennis such as Lance Tingay (whom I believe lived until around 1990) and who actually saw all the post-war players (and many before that too) in action must carry a lot of weight.
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Old Jun 14th, 2005, 02:39 PM   #14
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Here is a quote from Allison Danzig's article "Queen At Seventeen" about Mo:

"The Concentration this 17-year old youngster brings to the court is almost unequaled. Her fighting sprit is even more pronounced. The tougher the going, the greater the danger, the harder she fights and the more of a threat she becomes."

Now, when I read that quote the first thing that pops into my head is that Mo would have been more than capable of taking on Davenport who is prone to mental let downs. I could easily see Mo running Davenport from one side of the court to the other just wearing her out. Lindsay would go into a funk and that would be the end of that match. Same thing for Venus and Amelie. Sure, they could hit the ball harder but could they keep up with Mo's unrelenting game and her Steffi like attitude on the court? I think not.

Btw, there is a site called unitedstreaming. com and you can catch little tid bits of some matches from the past. The thing is you have to go through a school to use the site.
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Old Jun 21st, 2005, 04:25 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by RoanHJ
Mary K. Browne I think was only 5ft. 2 inches. I don't think she was ever ranked #1 in the world but I'm pretty sure she was #1 in the US at one time.
She was ranked #1 the first two years The USTA rankings began in 1913-14. I don't think world rankings began until 1921 right?
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