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Discussion Starter #21


Helen Jacobs in 1933.

Was there "a feud"? The press fanned the flames, real or not, but both women denied disliking the other.

"Big Helen" and "Little Helen" had the same coach (Pop Fuller), lived in the same house (at different times) and went to the same college.

Did Wills dislike have to do with class, religious, or sexual preferences? Wills had a doctor for a father-Jacobs was, in author Ted Tinling's words "in trade"-the mining trade.

Jacobs was half-Jewish, a fact little trumpeted at the time but no doubt known to Wills.

Finally some speculate the Wills was disgusted by Jacobs' lesbianism.

All these theories are mere conjecture. It was not until 1929 that any whiff of antipathy surfaces. THE USTA, contrary to all tradition, allowed Wills to select a partner to tour Europe with. Of course all expenses would be paid. Wills skipped right over Jacobs, the clear American #2 and choose her friend Edith Cross.

Incensed backers raised money to send Jacobs to Europe. Making the final at Wimbledon, she was crushed by "Queen Helen".
 

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Discussion Starter #22 (Edited)
In the spring of 1933 Jacobs ran into Suzanne Lenglen at the French Championships. Lenglen took Jacobs out to a side court to show her exactly how to beat Wills.

When Wills lost a set to Dorothy Round in the Wimbledon final the tennis world sat up and took notice. The first set lost since 1927! It gave the rest of the field an idea they stood a chance.

A back injury curtailed warm up events for Mrs Moody. She opted for only doubles leading into Forest Hills. Everything went fine until the semifinals stage, when it rained for days. Officials got upset when Dorothy Round refused to play on a Sunday that was dry. The preacher's daughter wouldn't budge, and the rain began again the next day.

Wills finally went on court to face British #2 Betty Nuthall. "Bounding Betty" won the first set, the first set Wills had lost in America since 1926. Everyone was so stunned no one noticed until too late that Betty served twice in a row.

Wills recovered to win in 3 sets. The Queen thought she had another piece of good luck in facing Helen Jacobs, who overcame Dorothy Round in the second semi. Wills felt Round might beat her, but had nothing to fear from Jacobs.

The rain and midweek final kept the crowd on finals day to 8,000. Employing
Lenglen's tactics of mixing long shots down the lines with short crosscourts, Jacobs endeavored to bring Mrs Moody or get to net herself. This was a tactic that paid off, as video shows her at net several times.

A stiff back kept Wills below her best form. How bad was it? At 0-3 down in the third set Wills went to the net, announced she was done, and walked to the clubhouse inn as a dumfounded crowd buzzed. It was all too eerily similar to 1921, when Suzanne Lenglen walked off court rather than lose to Molla Mallory.

After a few minutes the crowd was ready to explode with anger. Jacobs got hearty applause when presented with the trophy.

Meanwhile back in the clubhouse officials were aghast; for Helen Wills Moody had announced she had every intention of going back on court for the doubles final with Elizabeth Ryan.

Was this because she wasn't truly ill, hating the idea of defeat so much she walked off court in a huff, or was it some misplaced sense of duty to Ryan?
Ryan, convinced a riot would break out if Wills stepped back into the stadium, defaulted for both herself and Helen.

It was this encounter that spurred on talk of a "feud." The controversy in the press raged on for weeks. Wills would not return to tennis again until 1935. With typical determination she pursued therapy using swimming to help heal her back.

Never again would Moody enter Forest Hills. All indications are this one defeat was the most bitter defeat for "Queen Helen" to swallow.
 

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Great pics and information thanks Rollo! Although Lenglen fascinates me much more it's still great to find out so much about this genuine legend of our sport. The rivalry with Jacobs and the show-down where Wills defaults is amazing! I have to say I know I would have been cheering for Jacobs all the way, I always love the underdog and esp if they come from such humble roots as Jacobs did.
 

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Discussion Starter #28
Glad you are enjoying the thread Djoule (your own photo threads inspired me here;)

And you too Fauxarchitect-welcome to the Blast and hope we see more of your posts:)

Great pics and information thanks Rollo! Although Lenglen fascinates me much more it's still great to find out so much about this genuine legend of our sport. The rivalry with Jacobs and the show-down where Wills defaults is amazing! I have to say I know I would have been cheering for Jacobs all the way, I always love the underdog and esp if they come from such humble roots as Jacobs did. Jun 8th, 2016 10:38 PM
Hi TV

Lenglen was probably more exciting to watch-much like I would normally prefer a Navratilova match over Evert.

And yet-something draws me to Wills. Lenglen was clearly dominated by her father. and wanted to please daddy. Wills? No doubt she wanted to please her father too, but he was no where near as omnipresent. What made her tick?

It's the sphinx-like enigma that excites my imagination. Ted Tinling correctly called Wills "The Garbo of Tennis", and it fit. Like Garbo she had beauty, allure, and an arrogant insistence on staying private to the point of "I want to be alone." Perhaps even her husbands never got a true picture of the "real" Helen. Her compartments were many and varied, and she rarely, if ever, just put herself out there.

Too bad Suzanne and Helen met only once. And how ironic that both suffered there worst moment at Forest Hills in matches they both quit!

P. S. I would have cheered for Jacobs too
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Anyone interested in Wills and Jacobs should visit this thread. Mark did a great job of tracking their matches.

Jacobs father had money, so she wasn't humble in that respect. She was a lot more down to earth than Wills though. A chain-smoker, she appears to have been friendly to a fault and fond of a good joke.

From Wills point of view it may have been more about class than money. To quote Tinling, Jacob's father was "in trade", while Will's father was a doctor. Jacobs father was Jewish, a fact some newspapers played down and other pushed as a story-line.

And it was the father's that got the attention here-as Mrs Wills stayed in the background and Jacob's mother died when she was quite young.
 

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Love the Legends of Tennis
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Anyone interested in Wills and Jacobs should visit this thread. Mark did a great job of tracking their matches.

Jacobs father had money, so she wasn't humble in that respect. She was a lot more down to earth than Wills though. A chain-smoker, she appears to have been friendly to a fault and fond of a good joke.

From Wills point of view it may have been more about class than money. To quote Tinling, Jacob's father was "in trade", while Will's father was a doctor. Jacobs father was Jewish, a fact some newspapers played down and other pushed as a story-line.

And it was the father's that got the attention here-as Mrs Wills stayed in the background and Jacob's mother died when she was quite young.
Awesome thanks Rollo! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #33
Wills in action on 31 May 1929. The venue is the Rot-Weiss Club in Berlin's fashionable Grunewald area. The event was the United States vs Germany.

Wills is in the near court wearing her famous visor, about to hit a forehand. Paula von Reznicek is in the far court.

Wills was officially representing the United States in team matches vs other nations. The USTA paid for her tour and, unusually, allowed her to pick a teamate. Helen passed over the other Helen, #2 ranked Helen Jacobs; opting instead for Edith Cross.

Cross got on rather well with Wills, but was no where in the class of Helen Wills or Helen Jacobs. The United States lost the tie to Germany despite Wills going undefeated in singles.

 

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Discussion Starter #34 (Edited)
We now know beyond a doubt that the "feud" between Wills and Jacobs was real.

The day of her famous defeat at Wimbledon in the 1935 final Jacobs wrote in her diary "I almost beat the bitch."

Wills had won 6-3 3-6 7-5. At match point in her favor at 5-2 Jacobs netted a short lob. It landed so short she choose to hit the overhead on the bounce. The ball and bounce went weird because a gust of wind. Jacobs tried to adjust, even going down on one knee, but her smash went in the net. Moans and groans erupted from the stands. The crowd, Jacobs, even Wills-Moody were in shock.

5 games in a row later Wills had her greatest comeback complete.

From the final
 

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