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Old Nov 21st, 2002, 08:44 PM   #31
Rboi
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Well, I'm bumping this thread

Al Laney and Alison Danzig were the premier US tennis writers through much of the 20th century. Laney published "Covering The Court - A Fity Year Love Affair with the Game of Tennis" and here are a few of this thoughts on the 'Queen of Ice and Fire'...

"From the day of her first Championship at Wimbledon in that wonderful final with Lili de Alvarez, Helen Wills, like Tilden, enjoyed absolute supremacy for six years. She was, in fact, an even more dominant champion, since Tilden, though never beaten in a Championship match, was often challenged. By 1933 Miss Wills had won four Wimbledon titles, seven US and four French titles without losing a set and she was unchallenged anywhere in the world. No tennis player of her time, man or woman, stood out so far ahead of her comtemporaries.

With the exception of the Cannes match (vs. Lenglen, which he witnessed and wrote of with exceptional insight) and the 1927 (Wimbledon) final with Alvarez which are unforgettable, all of Miss Wills's matches about which I can remember anything worth remembering came after 1932. That was the last year in which she was untouchable and other girls were struck with awe in her presence.

I remember very well, of course, seeing the teenage Miss Wills for the first time; but between the 1927 Wimbledon final and her last appearance on that centre court in 1938, I remember Miss Wills only when she was in difficulty, if not actual distress.

Miss Wills had not Lenglen's ability to give you pleasure by the beauty of her method and the glitter of her personality, but she had a manlike speed of service and drive that gave her superiority over her rivals. There was an immaculate quality about her play. Never much of a strategist, her progress through a tournament was seldom exciting, but the steady placidity of her play, unvaried against all opponents, never seemed to bore her. She never sought new ways of dealing with and defeating opponents as Lenglen did, but she never had to do so for a long time. A quick guess and a bit of mental arithmetic indicate I must have seen Miss Wills play about fifty matches during the six years of her untroubled reign as Queen of the courts, but of them all I really remember only those to which came feeling not quite up to strenuous effort, as happens periodically to girl athletes.

During these years there was this British tennis journalist, Powell Blackmore, who kept book on the girl players and he always kindly informed me when Miss Wills's time was due so that I did not miss these interesting occasions. They were interesting because she was so good she could win standing still, you might say, while the other girl ran miles. If there was a ball that was out of reach and was to beat her, well let it. There would be others that could be dealt with, for Miss Wills, standing in the middle of the baseline, was so persistently accurate and so forceful that she seem actually to attract the ball to her racket, to force the opponent to play back to where she was standing or else to miss altogether.

One often wondered why the silly girl did not make Miss Wills run, until one realized that the silly girl had more than she could do merely knocking the ball back down the centre.

It was certainly interesting to see Miss Wills operate during these few times of comparative discomfort, but otherwise I do not even remember the names of the long list of victims she disposed of as easily as shelling peas."

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Old Nov 22nd, 2002, 07:43 AM   #32
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Thanks Rboi

I love how Al so skillfully lays out talking about Helen's "periods" LOL. One wonders who the British journalist had to bribe to get that kind of information.

His description of her style mirrors Helen's own words. She writes in 15-40. (not an exact quote) "I have always preferred the direct method of attack, believing it in the end to be the most effective." To Wills tospin off both sides would beat clever changes of pace and slice on most days-and I must say it worked well for her.
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Old Nov 24th, 2002, 09:07 AM   #33
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Thanks Rboi, excellent read

Rollo I love that small glam pic of Helen, she was such a classic beauty thanks!
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Old Dec 5th, 2002, 05:33 PM   #34
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Helen Wills Moody
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Old Dec 5th, 2002, 08:13 PM   #35
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My she was a beauty wasn't she? It's interesting to see that glamour in the sport didn't begin ten years ago or so. I went back as far as Suzanne and Helen. Funny that while Suzanne could hardly be called conventionally beautiful she was defintely a diva and a style setter. Whereas Helen was the great beauty but was more conservative in her attire. Too bad they only played once. Then again, it kind of adds some mystique to their rivalry. Despite the fact that they only played one match they are still considered one of the all-time most famous rivalries in tennis with Navratilova/Evert and Court/King. Nice to see Helen was a fan of Martina too, she seemed to have lightened up in her old age. I also like the fact that there is a very obvious thread through American tennis from Helen to Maureen to Chris to Venus. I think that these four have each been greatly influenced by the one preceeding them.
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Old Dec 6th, 2002, 08:36 AM   #36
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You're right Pam. Helen certainly admired Martina a lot

This is my favourite thread on this board!
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Old Dec 18th, 2002, 09:19 AM   #37
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This is Cilly Aussem-1931 Wimbledon champ and Germany's first female grand slam champ. I'l try and post more on her later.
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Old Dec 18th, 2002, 10:32 AM   #38
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That would be great Rollo, thanks

I know so little about Cilly Aussem.
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Old Dec 21st, 2002, 11:47 PM   #39
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Found a rare pic of Helen volleying. She was divorced from polo player Aidan Roark in the 1970s.


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Old Dec 23rd, 2002, 07:30 AM   #40
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A great picture of Helen volleying

A few questions for anyone but I guess mostly to you Rollo

1. Why didn't Helen go down to Australia when obviously at that time it was possible, and players like Dorothy Round did go down. I know that there's health considerations and length of trip but still did Helen not even consider it at all? Did she ever talk about it?

2. I noticed in a GM thread that Brian Stewart listed the #1 players for pre-1975 and had Helen #1 for 9 years (8 of which were the years in which she won Wimbledon). There was one year that confused me. Cilly Aussem won both French and Wimbledon that year and Helen won only the US championship. Ok, so Helen was out with injury for most of that year 1931 but under what reasoning did Cilly Aussem did not get the #1 ranking?

3. I'm not sure about this, I might be mistaken but in Wimbledon 1935, Helen was seeded #4? She came into that Wimbledon as a 6 times champion, why exactly was she #4?

I will wait to ask other questions
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Old Dec 26th, 2002, 03:22 AM   #41
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I'll get around to your questions Sam-promise

This is a small but bizarre little story I found.

"It's a small world after all"

In May of 1937 Helen Wills was planning on making a comeback (starting in doubles) in a small California event. On May 17 she reported 3 of her "favorite racquets" stolen from her car. The investigating officer was-get this-Dan Marble-brother of tennis star Alice Marble!
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Old Dec 26th, 2002, 03:39 AM   #42
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Australia just wasn't important in Helen's day unless you were Australian. The one reason it became a "slam" was because for years (until 1974! it was one of ONLY 4 nations to win the Davis Cup. Even then it wasn't until late in 1933 that the idea of a "grand slam" came into being. That was the time Helen was injured with her bad back.

Add in the time (too many people died in planes in those days for commercial air travel to work) of weeks on a boat, uncertain health (Dorothy Round got so sick from her Aussie tour it set her back in defending Wimbledon in 1935) and lack of financial backing. Foreign men were sent to Oz on Davis Cup teams- not an option for the women. It all adds up to a no go.

Helen DID make it as far as Japan one year. But this was part of a tour with her husband and she entered no events.

Last edited by Rollo : Dec 26th, 2002 at 03:53 AM.
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Old Dec 26th, 2002, 03:51 AM   #43
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Most experts rated Helen as #1 in 1931 because she remained unbeatable. As Tilden himself wrote in placing her #1 on his list.
"Once more she went through the season without the loss of a set." Tilden added "it's a pity that Fraulein Cilly Aussem, the marvelous little Germanstar who won the Wimbledon, French, and German championships, did not play here [the US] for she alone could give Mrs. Moody a battle, and I seriously doubt that she could extend the US star. "

Finally he states: Aussem's "record almost entitles her to the first position, since she won 3 major titles. Only Mrs. Moddy's known superiority in her field can take precedence over Fraulein Aussem's phenomenal record."

And this comes from Wills' bitter enemy and a man who coached Aussem!

Frankly, I'd put Aussem as #1 on my list. It wasn't her fault Wills decided not to bother leaving the US the whole year. Cilly became ill late in the year after a South American tour and when Helen returned to Europe in 1932 Aussem was a shadow of herself.



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Old Dec 26th, 2002, 04:12 AM   #44
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An added thought. For Europeans the German championships were more important (or more convenient) than the US Nationals until well after World war Two when air travel changed things.

As the German was played in August, the same time as the US women's nationals, it was impossible to enter both events. Just look at who DIDN'T come in the 1920s and 1930s

Lenglen came only once (1921) -and that was to raise money for a charity helping 'War-torn France".

Sperling never came
Aussem never came
Alvarez never came.
Mathieu came once (1938)

The Brits came every other year for Wightman Cup from 1923-but that's often as international as it got for the women. When big name women from Chile and Poland came in 1937 huge excited crowds came out. The brutal fact was that in the US Open became important only because Americans were proving they were best at Wimbledon. It's the same way the Aussie title gained prestiege.

Only Wimbledon had prestiege year-in year out.
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Old Dec 26th, 2002, 04:34 AM   #45
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Wimbledon seeding in the 30s is a mystery to me. What follows is my best guess.

First off-the British naturally "protected" their own women with high seeds when poosible.

Brian Stewart was surprised at how poorly the Brits treated Helen Jacobs. He was right. She was consistently underseeded-so much so that in 1938 she was unseeded! She must have been very satisfied that year to reach the finals.

Now to Will's #4 seed of 1935. Helen went from invincible to beatable after the famous default of 1933. After arriving in England in May she won her first two events on grass and odds
on her winning Wimbledon were as good as 2-1. But then she lost 6-0 6-4 to Kay Stammers at Beckenham-and Stammers then got killed in the final. One paper said she looked more like "a tired muscle-bound matron than a potential champion." Odds quickly dropped after that.

So the one loss dropped her behind Sperling at #2 amd Jacobs at #3 in the seedings. Sperling was looking very tough that year and Jacobs had beaten Wills the last time they met. Round was automatic #1 seed as defending champ.
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