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Old Aug 6th, 2002, 05:52 PM   #1
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The 1930s

This was the era of the two Helens-"Big" Helen (Wills) and "Little"
Helen. Their rivalry fueled the decade as the press built up a "feud" that the two women insisted never existed.
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Old Aug 6th, 2002, 05:59 PM   #2
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Helen at the 1924 Paris Olympics-she was the last Olympic winner before Steffi Graf in 1988. Helen's fashion accessories included her visor, a red cardigan, and white eyeshade. For a while her early popularity made White eyeshade a fashion fad.


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Old Aug 6th, 2002, 06:09 PM   #3
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An early painting-1920.




Artists and writers were fascinated with Helen, who managed to be both mysterious and beautiful at the same time. Diego Rivera
was a famous artist who captured her image in oil. Helen herself tried her hand at art. She even got showings at art galleries-though this was more for her fame than talent. She did her own drawings for her tennis autobiograhy.

Helen's other artisitic ventures were less successful. She wrote a mystery novel with a tennis theme(Death Serves an Ace), but failed in her dream of becoming a movie actress. Movie studios
decided she was "too muscular".

She was a very "cold" personality on court, much like Chris Evert and Venus Williams, for she rarely showed emotion on court. Helen and Venus share another trait: contemporaries of both sometimes believed their cool on and off court demaeanor was a ploy. Both claimed not to practice often at times, neither was believed by her peers.
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Old Aug 6th, 2002, 06:23 PM   #4
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No other champion was as unbeatable as Helen. Suzanne Lenglen won more 6-0 sets, but Wills' unbeaten streak of 158 matches stil stands. From 1927 to 1933 she didn't even lose a SET!

By the early 30's fans showed up just to cheer against her. She had gone from being a popular little girl to "Miss Poker Face".
It was said her hard hitting machine-like style was killing interest in women's tennis.

Here's Helen before her 1933 Wimbledon fianl, where the British challenger Round almost beat her:



As the new decade started Helen Wills was married and now had a new last name but her game was still the best on the women's tour. During the decade Moody won seven major singles titles including 5 at Wimbledon. Moody played her game from the baseline, able to hit powerful shots from both the forehand and the backhand. In 1933 she was in the middle of an 158 match winning streak. Her opponent from Great Britain was the only other player to win Wimbledon more then once in the decade, Dorothy Round. She won it twice (1934 and 1937) and appeared in the final against Moody in 1933 which Moody won 6-4 6-8 6-3. Round also won the Australian title in 1935 the first women from outside Australia to do so.




Round and Perry sail for Australia. There was no concept of a "Grand Slam" until 1936. Airplane travel wasn't yet safe. The voyage to Australia took weeks and Round became ill from the trip.


Dorothy Round was a vicar's daughter with a great serve and volley. Women didn't serve AND volley in the 30s until Alice Marble, but Round went to net as often as possible. Being very religious, she caused problems for officials by refusing to play on Sundays.

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Old Aug 6th, 2002, 06:42 PM   #5
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Helen's lifetime record was 398-35- a .919 winning record!

Here is her great rival-Helen Jacobs. "Little" Helen was 1-14 lifetime vs. Wills.




They shared more than first names. They both had the same coach "Pop" Fuller, lived in the same house (at different times) and went to the same university.

When Jacobs was coming up as a junior "Pop' tried to get Wills to mentor his young protegee. Wills gave her the cold shoulder and
waxed her 6-0 6-0 without mercy in a practice session. By 1928 Wills was so powerful that the USTA let her choose her partner for a European tour-all expenses paid. When Wills skipped over #2 ranked Jacobs in favor of #3 Edith Cross it was viewed as a "bitchy" choice by many. Jacobs supporters raised money to privately sponsor her 28 trip.

Jacobs was popular wherever she went. Audiences adored her "masculine" attacking game. She introduced shorts in 1933, a daring innovation in the 1930s.

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Old Aug 6th, 2002, 06:51 PM   #6
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Other reasons advanced for the dislike between the two were:

1. Rumours of Wills recoiling from Jacobs being a lesbian. Sexual preferences went unspoken in the 1930s, but some say Wills conservative nature added fuel to the fire of hatred. Wills also disliked Bill Tilden, another homosexual. Jacobs never dicussed her private life until her death. Her obituary stated she had lived with her partner for many years.

2. Class snobbery. Wills' liked the 'in" crowd. As a docter's daughter, she may have thought herself above Jacobs, whose father was "in trade".

3. Jacobs refused to bow down and admit the supremacy of Wills.
"Little" Helen had a weaker game than other women of the 30s(she had a Pam Shriver-like slice forehand) but none had a bigger fighting heart.

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Old Aug 6th, 2002, 06:52 PM   #7
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Helen Jacobs again





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Old Aug 7th, 2002, 03:40 AM   #8
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Thanks! This is my favourite thread

I saw live pictures of Helen Wills on the Wimbledon "Dare to Dream" video. She was so graceful in that black dress. Also I saw clips of her matches

The 1930's rule, the best era for tennis fashions
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Old Aug 8th, 2002, 02:04 PM   #9
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Helen, the ice cold beauty! It seems like she isn't given her due now adays. Lengles has always overshadowed her from players of that era and even Alice Marble seems to be better remembered. I think that this might have something to do with Helen being perceived as, well, a bitch.

Jacobs one victory over Will came at Forest Hills in the early '30's (can't remember the year off hand) where after Jacobs took a 3-0 lead in the third, Wills defaulted to a chorus of boos from the audience who believed that Wills did so as to not give Jacobs the satisfaction of finishing out her victory. It was reported by many witnesses after the match that Wills still planned to play her doubles match later that afternoon but was advised against it because she was "injured" after all.

The last Wimbledon final the two Helens played against each other was in '38 I believe, they had played a dramatic 3 setter in '35 and the Centre Court audience was full of anticipation that, finally, "little Helen" would beat her nemesis in a completed match. They played even til 4-4 in the first when Jacobs turned an ankle. She hobbled valiantly around the court the rest of the match, while Wills decimated her showing no signs of mercy much to the Centre Court crowds disapproval. At the end of the match which Wills won without the loss of another game, Will barely acknowledged Jacobs at the net and did not inquire about her injury at all! Jacobs said after the match that she continued playing on despite her injury because she thought that it was the sporting thing to allow your opponent the full taste of victory in a Championship final, an obvious dig at Wills behavior from a few years previous at Forest Hills.

Wills didn't die to long ago, outliving almost all of her contemporaries. I believe she was in her mid-90's when she died though she hadn't been seen in public in a very long time.
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Old Aug 9th, 2002, 01:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by PamShriver
Jacobs one victory over Will came at Forest Hills in the early '30's (can't remember the year off hand) where after Jacobs took a 3-0 lead in the third, Wills defaulted to a chorus of boos from the audience who believed that Wills did so as to not give Jacobs the satisfaction of finishing out her victory. It was reported by many witnesses after the match that Wills still planned to play her doubles match later that afternoon but was advised against it because she was "injured" after all.
That really was one of the most hilarious moments in tennis history. Correct me if I'm wrong but that was the last time a womens' GS final was an uncompleted one. Pam, Helen died at age 92 I think, yeah she certainly did outlive her contempories and some...

I really think that Helen's place in tennis history has been somewhat undermined because of the immense popularity of Lenglen and Marble, both came a little before oro after her.

The thing is, they were seen as contributing something to tennis rather than just winning. Although it was Helen, who on paper, won more than either of them.
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Old Aug 9th, 2002, 04:38 AM   #11
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Nice thread.

I've never felt that Alice Marble in any way has overshadowed Helen Wills. Don't know where you guys get that from. If anything, I've always felt Alice was "undershadowed" b/c of how her career was cut short due to World War II. Helen Wills has always been given her due.

Btw, Wills did say to Jacobs "Too bad, Helen" at the net after their 1938 Wimbledon final. Bill Tilden, who hated Wills, wrote that so great was the sympathy for Helen Jacobs that when she showed up at the Wimbledon ball in crutches, she was given a standing ovation - something the champion (Wills) didn't get.

Said Helen Wills after the match, ""I was very sorry about Helen's ankle. But it couldn't be helped, could it? I thought there was nothing I could do but get it over as quickly as possible." "Life" magazine covered the match in great details including dramatic photos like when Helen Jacobs first fell, Hazel Wightman on the court asking Jacobs to stop playing and Jacobs refusing, the handshake at the net - it seems like Helen Wills could not bring herself to look at Jacobs in the face, though that could be just a photo illusion.

I will say this - Helen Jacobs was a much better writer than Helen Wills!

Wills was asked after she retired for the final time - after the 1938 Irish Ch'ships - if there was anything that would make her come back to tennis. To which she said she would return if she had a chance to play Suzanne Lenglen. Such was her respect for her. Sadly, Suzanne died that year; if I'm not mistaken, on the same day Helen won her final Wimbledon.

Btw, here's an anecdote from 1990 after Martina Navratilova broke Helen's Wimbledon singles record:

Quote:
Navratilova says she hopes to meet the woman she had shared the record with some day. "I was in Carmel (where Helen Roark, formerly Moody, lives in California) a few years ago and I had the itch just to drive by her home, but I didn't want to invade her privacy," Navratilova says. "I've always wanted to meet her, not just because I've broken her record."
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Old Aug 9th, 2002, 10:56 AM   #12
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Thanks for the reports! Now I'm going to try and find that issue
of Life!


Hazel was active that year(1938). As the Captain of the Wightman Cup team she felt free to give advice to "her girls" whether they wanted it or not. Alice Marble NEVER got to face Helen Wills in a singles match. The 38 Wimbledon was her best shot, but she fell to Jacobs 6-4 6-4 in the semis. Hazel told her flat out it was because Alice joked with the crowd after falling down.



Zummi's right about Alice being overshadowed on court. World War Two cost her a lot of things-a husband she married in secret who was killed in action and lots of Wimbledons, not to mention a chance to prove she could win the French. She was much better than her 5 slams indicates. I can see what Sam means though-Alice kept active in the game via writing, social reform (helping Althea Gibson break the color barrier) and coaching(Billie Jean King was a pupil). Plus her serve and volley was copied. In that respect she overshadowed Helen.
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Old Aug 10th, 2002, 02:24 AM   #13
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Hazel was such a b****. She most definitely preferred Helen Wills to Helen Jacobs and was very demonstrative of such obvious favoritisms. When Helen Jacobs tried to play in shorts one time, Hazel ordered her to take them off! A very shrewd and frugal manager too. Though probably not as bad as the all-time champion penny-pincher, Nell Hopman. Reading what she put the Australian girls through in Margaret Court's first autobiography was just shocking. I actually felt sorry for Margaret Court!

Probably the fact that Helen Jacobs was close to Molla Mallory must have irked Hazel as well. She simply detested the Norwegian foreigner who usurped her own rightful place as U.S. #1. Good for Molla, who was always a very honest woman.

In terms of impact on the game, definitely Alice did more than Helen Wills, who all but disappeared after her retirement. But I've never seen a "greatest ever" list with Alice above Helen Wills or Suzanne, for instance. In fact, it's a miracle if Alice is remembered at all.

Btw, in Martina's mystery novels, the main character super-sleuth Jordan Myles has a fox terrier named AM (for Alice Marble).
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Old Aug 13th, 2002, 07:09 AM   #14
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Part of the reason Wightman was closer to Wills was she was her doubles partner in the early 20s. They won the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Helen took advice from Hazel, who was often heard shouting "Run, Helen Run!" whenever the slow footed Wills seemed unlikely to get to the ball. It became such a catch-phrase that slow women everywhere were told to "Run, Helen, Run!"


Jacobs again-winning the 1936 Wimbledon.

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Old Aug 14th, 2002, 01:16 PM   #15
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LOL @ "Run Helen Run"

I agree with what Zummi said about how Alice impacted on the game more yet Helen was recognised as a greater player, deservedly.

I didn't know Hazel Wightman really favoured Helen Wills
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