Class of 1965
Grand Slam Results
Once a major champion, once a finalist
At the Philadelphia Cricket Club in the summer of 1887, hometown girl Ellen Hansell became the first female U.S. National Women’s Singles champion. The 17-year-old, who battled anemia as a child, thumped Laura Knight in the championship match, 6-1, 6-0, in what is one of the most lopsided victories in major tournament history. The following year, Hansell was unsuccessful in defending her title, losing to Bertha Townsend, 6-3, 6-5 in the championship match. Mysteriously, Hansell became a footnote, albeit an important one, and never reached the level of acclaim achieved in 1887 and 1888.
Hansell retired in 1890, dedicating herself to being a wife and mother of six children. Like many of the era’s players who swiped at the ball, Hansell had wristy, right-handed groundstrokes combined with a sidearm serve. Her achievement as the premier Ladies Champion was duly recognized at the 1931 Golden Jubilee celebration of the United States Lawn Tennis Association, where she was honored alongside the first men’s champion Richard Sears.
U.S. Nationals: W (1887)