Tennis Forum banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

25,282 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
A Thread Devoted to Peggy Scriven-2 times French Champion (1933 and 1934) and First Lefthanded female to win a singles slam

Link to her Encyclopedia Biography:


SCRIVEN, "PEGGY" (Margaret Croft Scriven)
United Kingdom
Born 16 August 1912 in Leeds, Yorkshire, Great Britain
Died 25 January 2001 in Haslemere, Surrey, England, Great Britain.
Married Francis Harvey Vivian, 28 November 1940.

The first British woman to win the singles title at the French in 1933. She also won the singles title there in 1934 famously defeating Helen Jacobs in the fading light.

Scriven-Vivian was ranked in the world top ten from 1933 through 1935, reaching a career high of World No. 5 in those rankings in 1933 and 1934.

The first lefty to win a slam, Scriven had a potent heavy topspin forehand and could run all day, traits she used to cover an unorthodix backhand that was mainly defensive. This explains her success on slower surfaces. She never made it past the QF stage in slams contested on grass.

Slam Record: Won 2 times, 1 SF, 5 QF in 19 events.

Australian Championships-never entered.
French Open: Won in 1933 and 1934. SF (1935) QF in 1937. Played 6 times from 1932-37.
Wimbledon: 4 QF (1931,1933,1934,1937) in 12 attempts from 1930-39 and 1946-47.
US Chmps: 3R in 1933 her only entry at Forest Hills.

Her husband was an RAF pilot.

Obituary of Peggie Scriven: Tennis player who in 1933 became the first British woman to win the singles at the French championships
The Daily Telegraph
Monday, February 12, 2001

PEGGIE SCRIVEN, who has died aged 88, was the first of only six British women tennis players to have won the singles title at the French Championships.

A left-hander, Peggie Scriven was renowned for her power off the ground and her trenchant resolution under pressure, qualities which served her particularly well on the hard courts of France.

In the spring of 1933, she made a good showing at tournaments on the French Riviera, notably at Monte Carlo where she beat the formidable Cilly Aussem 6-0, 6-2 before falling to the French No 1 Simone Mathieu in the semi-final.

Two months later, she entered the French Open, held on the red clay of Roland Garros. During her career thus far she had been regarded as something of an outsider by the tennis authorities, and had received little encouragement from the Lawn Tennis Association. She was not included in the official team of English players in the event, had to pay her own way to Paris, and was unseeded in the draw. She was further handicapped by tonsillitis.

She did, however, have a loyal supporter in A Wallis Myers, the lawn tennis correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, and his faith was repaid when she won through to the final. There she faced Mathieu again, and though the Frenchwoman sipped brandy to revive her flagging strength, Peggie Scriven's devastating forehand and plucky, quick-footed defence brought her victory in three sets, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4.

Suzanne Lenglen was among the first to congratulate the English player, and her achievement was marked by a leading article in the Telegraph. Other newspapers, too, paid tribute to her force of character. "One always had the feeling that she was bound to do something in tennis," a journalist commented, "if just through sheer determination.

"If you meet her in the dressing room, or off the court you are conscious of an important figure in the game. She holds her head high with great assurance, she walks with a determined stride and she is seldom impressed by anyone or anything."

A year later, Peggie Scriven became the only British woman player to retain a Grand Slam title other than at Wimbledon, when she beat the American Helen Jacobs in Paris. The match was surrounded by controversy. At that time the men's and women's singles finals were played on the same day. The men's final lasted five sets, and so it was not until 6.30 pm that the two ladies went on court.

During the second set Helen Jacobs twice appealed against the fast-fading light, but the referee insisted that the match should finish. Peggie Scriven, in typically determined fashion, proved the mentally stronger, winning 7-5, 4-6, 6-1.

She was born Margaret Croft Scriven at Chapel Allerton, Leeds, on August 18 1912, and educated at home.

Her parents played club tennis and young Peggie soon had a racket in her hand. After winning a number of local tournaments, she came to national prominence by winning the British junior championship in 1929, without having ever received a formal lesson, although she was later coached by Dan Maskell.

On her second appearance at Wimbledon, in 1931, aged 18, she reached the quarter-finals before being beaten by Simone Mathieu on Centre Court, the first time that Peggie Scriven had played there.

Her game advanced rapidly and she went on to become one of the foremost British players of the 1930s. Her powerful play came into its own on the lightning-fast wooden courts at The Queen's Club, where she won the British covered court championships five times between 1932 and 1938. She was doubles champion at the same event in 1933 and mixed doubles champion in 1934 and 1935.

In 1933 she was ranked the No 2 British player, and in 1934, following her triumphs in Paris, the fifth best player in the world.

At Roland Garros, she also won the mixed doubles with the Australian Jack Crawford in 1933, beating the renowned all-British pairing of and Betty Nuthall. Two years later she and Kay Stammers won the doubles there.

Unlike most of her contemporaries, Peggie Scriven made far more of an impact on hard courts than on grass. At Wimbledon she was seeded three times, but never progressed beyond the quarter-finals. There she lost to Hilda Krahwinkel (later Hilda Sperling) in 1933, and then to the unseeded Australian, J Hartigan.

Her lack of success at Wimbledon meant that she was not chosen to represent Britain in the now defunct Wightman Cup match until 1933, when she lost a lengthy, fiercely competitive match against Helen Jacobs. She was selected again in 1934 and also in 1938, when she was beaten at Wimbledon by Helen Wills Moody, who had not lost a match on Centre Court for 10 years. Despite this result, however, later that year Peggie Scriven was ranked the best woman player in Britain in the last official list issued before the war.

She married, in 1940, Harvey Vivian, a house master at Clifton and a wartime RAF officer. But a week after their wedding, he was shot down over Germany and captured. He and his wife were not reunited until 1945.

Margaret Vivian, as she became in tennis retirement, later spent many years coaching the sport in schools near her home in West Sussex. Her husband died in 1983. She is survived by their son and daughter.


25,282 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
From Gallery of Champions, by Helen Jacobs. 1948.

In this book Jacobs ranks and covers at length the 15 winners of the "big three" (French, Wimbledon or US) that she played against.

She ranks Scriven dead last among this group at 15.

Margaret Scriven Vivien (Chapter 15: pages 212-224)

There was one ray of hope for Great Britian in her home championship at Wimbledon in 1931. A nineteen year-old English girl, Peggy Scriven who had won the junior championships two years before, arose out of the welter of the first rounds in the world's title tournament and came within a few points of defeating France's leading player in the quarterfinal. This would have been a feat worthy of the attention it received if the young player had been a Wimbledon veteran. As it was she was playing for the first time on the famous and possibly awe-inspiring Centre Court, a fact calculated to place restraint upon most newcomers. But not Peggy Scriven. She walked out onto the court as if she had never played anywhere else, faced fifteen thousand spectators and quickly won the first set 6-1.

Simone Mathieu was perhaps more startled that day than the gallery at this unexpected blast let loose upon her by a practically unknown opponent. Gathering her forces ans the remains of her confidence, she ran Peggy ragged and took the second set 6-2. The English girl had had a natural reaction to her quick first-set victory which, combined with Simone's desperate fight to overcome the lead, temporarily broke Peggy's concentration and with it the accuracy of of her stinging left-handed drive.

How Peggy ever developed the strokes she did in a country of classic tennis form is a mystery. Her forehand [start of p. 213] grip was close to the Eastern, but it was produced in the manner of the Western drive, and was made with the rotation of the body-weight of another fine English player, Phyllis Mudford King, rather than with the power lent by the forward movement of the body. Her backhand was an awkward stroke, carrying little speed or pace but considerable accuracy and placement. Of all her strokes, her service was undoubtedly the worst. It was weak and atrociously produced, with a pointless bending on the knee as the ball was hit.

In spite of her unorthodox form, which could have been corrected early in her junior tennis career, Peggy Scriven had the heart of the proverbial lion. She played the game with the limited technical equipment she possessed, but she brought to her matches such a will to win and utter disregard of the extraneous elements in match play-the gallery and its sentiments, the distraction of applause at the wrong time-that to defeat her was a challenge of no small proportion.

After her 1931 Wimbledon performance, Peggy's progress was steady and direct. It was doubtful if her stroke equipment, with the exception of her forehand, was sound enough to take her to a Wimbledon championship, but it was wholly possible that her stout heart and unflagging will to win might.

Peggy won the covered court championship of England at the Queen's Club in 1932, but her achievement on the fast wood was only a foreshadowing of the success that was to follow in 1933.

Of all the French Riviera tournaments, the Monte Carlo is the most international, and the singles championship the most highly prized. Here Peggy walked over Cilli Aussem, 6-0, 6-2, taking nine straight games before the German player could win one. But in the semifinal round, although Simone Mathieu was troubled by the sound, left-handed driving of the English girl in the first set, and lost it 4-6, her experience became a very telling factor in in the pace, placement, and variation of her forehand and backhand, and in her patience in waiting for her opponent's errors. The errors were not [start of page 214] frequent, but in pressing for the second set, Peggy made her mistakes at Critical times, and yielded at 6-2. The third set was the same story. Simone won it 6-3, bit not without a fight that impressed everyone who saw it.

It is a pity that at this point in her career, someone did not not give Peggy the advantage of careful coaching. Her backhand should have been changed both in execution and in timing, so that its production was less laborious and her footwork less awkward. Her service, under capable instruction, might have become an asset, aided by the proper use of her strong shoulders, instead of merely a means of putting the ball in play. But Peggy was not coached by anyone who saw the necessity for the changes, and she went ahead winning tennis matches with a single really effective stroke, endurance, and an indomitable will to win.

In August, 1933, she came to the United States as a member of the British Wightman Cup team, playing the second singles position. In the absence of Helen Moody, the French championship title-holder, she had won the tournament, but had fallen to Hilde Krahwinkel Spreling at Wimbledon in the quarter-final round. Dorothy Round was ranked above Peggy after her wonderful fight against Helen Moody in the Wimbledon final, and was given the number one position on the English team.

There is no doubt that Dorothy was a much finer tennis player than Peggy, but the newcomer to Wightman Cup competition was as great a fighter as England had ever produced, and her lop-sided game was, in a way, more disturbing to play than Dorothy's even, predictable one.

The Wightman Cup draw brought her against Sarah Palfrey on the first day of play. It had been decided before the matches began that that in the event Dorothy Round, England's number one player, defeated me, Helen Moody would substitute for Sarah. Helen had stated the morning of the first day's matches that her strained back would prevent her participation, but that she would play if the retention of the cup appeared to depend upon it. As it turned out, I defeated [page 215] Dorothy and the task of beating the hard-hitting Peggy fell to the slight but brilliantly playing Bostonian.

It was a question of a complete player with a repertoire of strokes exploiting the obvious weakness of a one-stroke artist, although it is not quite fir to label Peggy's backhand as weak. It was certainly not a powerful shot, but it could be steady, accurate, and resourceful and not as easy to break as it seemed to be.

Sarah started out winning with great assurance, hitting with depth off both wings and following up every opening to the net. With telling precision she kept the ball on Peggy's backhand and so close to the corners that the later found it impossible to run around the ball to take it on the favored forehand side. The difficulty she encountered on hitting her backhand on the run made Sarah's position at the net particularly favorable, forcing as it did, returns that had little margin for error.

The American's tactics were obviously destined t succeed, and she won the first set 6-3. But it cannot be said that she won by tactics alone. There was an indomitable quality in her play and determination that was clear to all who watched her.

Although Peggy, attempting to take matters into her own hands in the second set, made far more outright placements than she had in the first, she overdrove the lines so often that she could not take but one game. The advantage, in service, was entirely in Sarah's favor. Peggy simply put the ball in play. Sarah used the stroke as an opening weapon in an offensive campaign. She deserved all the credit she received for a decisive, well-earned victory.

Peggy and I met the net day. The matches stood at 3-2 for the United States. On Friday, I had defeated Dorothy Round in the first match, Sarah had won from Peggy and Sarah and I had defeated Dorothy and Mary Heeley in the first doubles. On Saturday, Betty Nuthall had won from our third singles player, Carolin Babcock, and Dorothy Round beat Sarah. It was expected that Betty and her partner, Freda James, would defeat Alice Marble and Marjorie Gladman Van Ryn, in which [page 216] case the outcome of the series would hinge on my match with Peggy Scriven. That is exactly what happened.

25,282 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
As the winner of the French in 1933 and 1935 Peggy hoped to get an invite to play at the 1935 Australian Championships.

Others went in her place. Winner Winner Dorothy Round made sense, but Evelyn Dearman and Nancy Lyle got places too. Neither was in Scriven's class. While not 100% sure-it sounds like it was her own tennis association (in other words the Brits, not the Aussies) who made the final choice, based primarily on having a doubles team. Two woemn were invited. The British decided to fund the 3rd memeber.

On the Aussie side the LTS, notoriously cheap when it came to women's tennis, paid 2 English women. They resisted the public outcry to invite Scriven as a 4th.

Other factors were at plat here. Apparently Peggy at first refused an offer to play in America on the way to Australia, as this would mean 9 months abroad, traveling mainly by boat.

20 Jan 1934 - Peggy Scriven Eager To Come - Trove tennis) date:[1934 TO 1934]&searchLimits=q-field0|||q-type0=all|||q-term0=scriven+tennis|||q-field1=title:|||q-type1=all|||q-term1|||q-field2=creator:|||q-type2=all|||q-term2|||q-field3=subject:|||q-type3=all|||q-term3|||q-year1-date=1934|||q-year2-date=1934 tennis) date:[1934 TO 1934]&searchLimits=q-field0|||q-type0=all|||q-term0=scriven+tennis|||q-field1=title:|||q-type1=all|||q-term1|||q-field2=creator:|||q-type2=all|||q-term2|||q-field3=subject:|||q-type3=all|||q-term3|||q-year1-date=1934|||q-year2-date=1934 tennis) date:[1934 TO 1934]&searchLimits=q-field0|||q-type0=all|||q-term0=scriven+tennis|||q-field1=title:|||q-type1=all|||q-term1|||q-field2=creator:|||q-type2=all|||q-term2|||q-field3=subject:|||q-type3=all|||q-term3|||q-year1-date=1934|||q-year2-date=1934 tennis) date:[1934 TO 1934]&searchLimits=q-field0|||q-type0=all|||q-term0=scriven+tennis|||q-field1=title:|||q-type1=all|||q-term1|||q-field2=creator:|||q-type2=all|||q-term2|||q-field3=subject:|||q-type3=all|||q-term3|||q-year1-date=1934|||q-year2-date=1934

Premium Member
39,263 Posts
I love how players were writing in those days. I may be not English enough to judge but Helen's prose looks pretty fine to me, and her observations subtle and spot on. :)
1 - 11 of 11 Posts