TODD, “PAT” (nee Mary Patricia Canning)
Born 22 July 1922 in San Francisco, California
Died 05 September 2015 in California
Married Richard Bradburn Todd, 25 December 1941
[Active 1938-1952 and 1957]
The 1947 French Champion
Though Pat was overshadowed by the "Big 4" (Betz, Brough, DuPont, and Hart) she beat hem all in her career, not to mention wins over every other great player of the period, including Maureen Connolly.
Pat was significant in other ways:
She continued to play after being married and even after motherhood; being the proud mom of 3.
She was colorful, from her signature padded striped tops down to her outbursts against tennis officials.
Meet the woman who, in 1948, dared to call the USTA a group of "doddering old men"
Patricia Canning Todd was born July 22, 1922 in San Francisco, California. She began tennis at the age of 8 when she showed up at a public courts in Alameda with her $5 racket.
A right-handed player with a dominant backhand, she won four majors: one singles title, two doubles titles and one mixed doubles title. She captured the 1947 French Singles Championship and the 1948 French doubles (w/Hart) and mixed doubles (w/Drobny) championships. She also claimed the 1947 Wimbledon doubles title (w/Hart). Todd reached the French singles semifinals in 1948, the Wimbledon singles semifinals (1948-50, 1952) and quarterfinals (1947), and the US singles semifinals (1946, 1948) and quarterfinals (1945, 1947, 1949-50). Todd also won the South American singles and mixed doubles championships in 1947-48. In 1950, she was the singles and doubles winner at both the first Asian Championships and the Championships of India. In 1948, she was the US National Indoor Singles Champion. She was ranked in the World Top 10 seven times (1946-52), reaching a career high No. 4 in both 1947 and 1949. She played Wightman Cup (1947-51) for the US, winning the Cup each year and posting a doubles record of 4-1.
Todd was not one to suffer in silence-with two outburst in 1948 being the most notable:
At the French, Pat was scheduled to play Nelly Adamson Landry in the semi-finals. Todd, who was the favorite and defending champion, was defaulted by French officials after she refused to move her scheduled center court match to court 2. Todd had complained about being last on center court after having played there only one match previously. When requested to move, she refused because of the late hour and because a full set of linesmen would not be present. "They can scratch [default] me if they like. I am not going to play anywhere but on the center court where my match is scheduled."
The officials defaulted her, then changed their minds and gave her Landry's phone number to reschedule. When Landry could not be reached, the default stood, with a fuming Pat standing at the ready courtside. Todd swore never to enter the French again. But she returned to the French Championships in 1950, after a one year absence, and reached the final where she lost to Hart.
At the end of 1948 the USTA ranked her #8 in the US, even though most unofficial world rankings had her at #5. Was the USTA trying to promote sexpot Gussie Moran, merely wrong, or punishing Pat for her outspokenness? Todd called a press conference to protest, calling the USTA "a group of doddering old men."
Todd was double-jointed, which enabled her to hit her signature one-handed backhand with sort of a wrist-first technique. When her peers were largely using sliced backhands, she was stroking with topspin. It was her strength from the backcourt that made her especially tough on hard courts or clay.
On her backhand:"I could hit it on a dot," she said, "but my forehand was always weak. I hit the ball firmly enough, but I was late."
Able to run and retrieve like a gazelle, her volleys were strong but not up to par with the likes of duPont, Brough, and Hart. The serve was the other liability besides her forehand, often letting her down at key times. It wasn't always a negative. In 2005 Louise Brough told Rollo over the phone that "it had an odd curve to it. She reminds me of that Russian girl [Dementieva]: so bad it was good."
Brough also recounted how "Toddy" was always a bit of loner and outsider on the Wightman Cup. Captain Hazel Wightman showed favortism towards the higher ranked players, making Pat take public transportation while the others rode with Hazel to the courts or other functions.
Todd had a London clothes maker that outfitted her. Immaculately tailored and fashionable, Pat was adored by the English public. The stirring comeback of Todd and Hart in the 1947 Wimbledon doubles final was the match of the tournament.
"Doddering Old Men" The Pat Todd Thread
Backhand compliment: Patricia Canning Todd's signature stroke has taken her around the world ... and perhaps into the Hall of Fame
By Jerry Magee. The San Diego Union-Tribune,
October 19, 2004.
"Patricia Canning Todd, 93, Dies; Tennis Champion Refused to Play on Side Court", by Daniel E. Slotnikov, The New York Times
, 01 November 2015.
[Thanks to Rollo for this information]