Class of 1974
Grand Slam Results
13-time major champion, 2-time finalist
Newspaper stories during tennis’s early years provided colorful and descriptive accounts, often with their own spin. This recap from the June 18, 1898 New York Times, summarized Juliette Atkinson’s victory over Marion Jones at the U.S. National Championships held in Philadelphia:
“Miss Juliette Atkinson of the Ladies’ Club of the Staten Island Athletic Club this afternoon again won the lawn tennis championship of the United States by defeating Miss Marion Jones of the Southern California Lawn Tennis Association and daughter of United States Senator Jones of Nevada. This is the third time that Miss Atkinson has won the championship, having won it in 1895 and 1897. The Wissachickon Challenge Cup now becomes her personal property. It has been in competition for twelve years. To-day’s match...took five sets to decide it. The contestants were evenly matched, but Miss Atkinson was much the stronger at the end of the three hours of fast playing. Both played a baseline game throughout, seldom coming up to the nets. When they did come up to the nets, however, Miss Atkinson almost invariably got the better of the exchange.”
At 5-feet tall, the Rahway, New Jersey-born Atkinson was a tennis marvel, winning thirteen U.S. National Championships, three in singles and ten in doubles (seven in women's doubles and three in mixed play). Size was never a detriment, she had fitness, a knowledge of how to play an all-court game, and obvious skill.
In a time when women played best of 5 sets, two of her three victories went the distance. In 1895 she had her easiest match against Helen Hellwig, winning 6-4, 6-2, 6-1. Longtime rival Elisabeth Moore lost the first two sets in 1897 and then pushed Atkinson to a deciding fifth, ultimately losing 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3. In 1898, Jones kept her title hopes alive by winning the fourth set, but losting the fifth.
Atkinson won seven U.S. National Women’s Doubles Championships with five different partners. Five straight came from 1894 to 1898, the last two playing alongside her sister Kathleen. Other than the Roosevelt sisters (Ellen and Grace in 1900) and the Williams sisters (Venus and Serena in 1999, 2009), the Atkinsons are the only sister duo to win a U.S. championship. They also had the distinction of becoming the first sisters to face each other in the U.S. Championships. That happened twice – in the 1895 and 1897 semifinals – with Juliette winning both matches in straight sets.
Atkinson was more particular about her mixed doubles partner, teaming with Edwin P. Fischer to win the 1894, 1895, and 1896 U.S. Championships. For the New York born Fischer, those were the only Grand Slam titles he earned in a nine year career playing amateur tennis.
Before she married in 1918, Atkinson competed at the Canadian Championships, which was initiated in 1881 and remains a popular tour site today, and won the title three straight times (1886-88).
U.S. Nationals: W 1895, 1897, 1898
U.S. Nationals: W 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1901, 1902
U.S. Nationals: W 1894, 1895, 1896