Class of 1958
World No. 2 (1921)
Grand Slam Results
13-time U.S. Nationals champion, and 10-time finalist
Bronze medal in Women’s Singles at the 1912 Stockholm Games (playing for Norway)
Member of the U.S. Wightman Cup Team 1923-1925, 1927-28
Most tennis fans can recall the accomplishments of the great women players in the Open Era, but only true connoisseurs of tennis history can detail the remarkable exploits of Anna Margarethe Molla Bjurstedt Mallory. Despite winning the Bronze Medal in singles at the 1912 Summer Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden, the Norwegian-born Mallory arrived in the United States in 1915 at age 31 with little fanfare and ostensibly to work as a masseuse. She would ultimately become one of the biggest names the sport has ever seen, winning a record eight U.S. National Women’s Singles Championships against eight different opponents. For that to materialize, however, Mallory would have to defeat the era’s most talented and recognizable players, including Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, Helen Wills, Mary K. Browne, and Frenchwomen Suzanne Lenglen, the game’s most colorful and dominant player, to secure her place in history. She accomplished that task in droves, earned immortality with her enshrinement into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1958. In 2008, 50 years after her induction, Mallory’s name was placed in the Court of Champions at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center alongside King, Chris Evert, and Martina Navratilova.
The first of Mallory's eight U.S. National Championships came as a 31-year-old against Wightman in 1915, coming back from dropping the first set 6-4 to ease into a 6-2, 6-0 victory. Her last was achieved as a 42-year old in 1926, making her the oldest champion in history. She clawed back from a 0-4 final set deficit to capture her eighth title against American Elizabeth Ryan, 4-6 6-4 9-7.
Mallory’s game was founded on fitness, strength, and size. She could play longer, hit harder, and move around the court better than her opponents. She played with supreme confidence and focus and attacked every rally as if it were match point. In one of her few published quotes, Mallory said, “I find that the girls generally do not hit the ball as hard as they should. I believe in always hitting the ball with all my might, but there seems to be a disposition to ‘just get it over’ in many girls whom I have played. I do not call this tennis.”
Mallory won five of her eight U.S. Championships before gaining true celebrity. In her 1921 second round match against the flamboyant Lenglen – the Frenchwomen’s only appearance at the U.S. Nationals – Mallory ran her opponent rampant, pushing her to exhaustion and cracking what had been an invincible player. Mallory cruised 6-2 in the first set. Two points into the second set Lenglen retired, informing the chair umpire of ill health. Mallory, who played in every U.S. National Championship from 1915-1929, finished her love affair with the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills as a singles semifinalist in 1929. Adding to her record titles were two additional finalist appearances (1923, 1924) and three trips to the semifinals. Her “worst” result was the quarterfinals in 1927. Tack on two U.S. National Women’s Doubles Championship titles (1916, 1917) and three in mixed doubles (1917, 1922, 1923) and the breadth of her career becomes crystallized. Two of those titles came with partner Bill Tilden, a formidable mixed doubles team as the sport has ever seen. On seven other combined occasions Mallory was a doubles and mixed doubles finalist.
In 1922, she made her lone Wimbledon Ladies Singles Championship final, falling to Lenglen 6-2, 6-0 in 26 minutes, reportedly the shortest major final in history. She was a Wimbledon semifinalist in 1926, the year she won her last U.S. title. Mallory played on winning Wightman Cup teams in 1923 and 1927. Her remarkable career had her ranked in the world’s Top 10 three times (1925-27) and the U.S. No. 1 player seven times (1915-16, 1918, 1920-22, 1926, 1929).
Wimbledon: F (1922)
U.S. Nationals: W (1915), W (1916), W (1917), W (1918), W (1920), W (1921), W (1922), W (1926)
U.S. Nationals: W (1916), W (1917)
Wimbledon: SF (1923)
U.S. Nationals: W (1917), W (1922), W (1923)