The Curator's Corner: Vol 3
Women’s tennis history extends beyond the court. Many pioneering women paved the way for current players such as Serena & Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radawanska, and many other inspiring players. In celebrating Women’s History Month, we revisit some of the women Hall of Famers who shaped the game in its formative days.
Molla Bjurstedt Mallory
Norwegian-born Molla Bjurstedt came to the United States in 1915 already having won the Bronze Medal at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm. Eventually becoming a naturalized American, she eventually won a record 8 U.S. National Singles Championships, even though her career spanned the years before and after the First World War.
March also happens to be Red Cross Month, as declared by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1943. During World War I, many women – including Molla Mallory – participated in events that raised money for the Red Cross, ambulances, and the War Effort. The 1917 U.S. National Championships were renamed the Patriotic Tournaments and worked with the Red Cross to benefit those who served. This certificate was won by Mallory and American Hall of Famer Eleonora Sears for winning the Women’s Doubles at the 1917 Patriotic Tournament.
Helen Hull Jacobs
Californian Helen Hull Jacobs was not just a 9-time major winner and half of one of the great early rivalries of women’s tennis (with the other Helen from California, Helen Wills). She was also a pioneer for women, becoming the first of her sex to wear shorts on the tennis court – a style first introduced on the men’s side by England’s Bunny Austin. During World War II, Jacobs enlisted as a lieutenant in the United States Navy on January 16, 1943. She was one of five women to be named Commandant of the Navy during the war. This photograph is from one of Jacobs’s scrapbooks, held in the archives at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
To learn more about all of our Hall of Famers, click here.