Class of 1965
World No. 1 (1946)
Grand Slam Results
6-time major champion, 12-time finalist
Member of the winning U.S. Wightman Cup Team 1946
In 1947, Pauline Betz Addie had her preeminent tennis career ripped away from her by the United States Lawn Tennis Association for pursuing a professional career and speaking openly about playing for pay in a tour run by Jack Kramer and Bobby Riggs. Another American player, Sarah Palfrey, a multiple major champion herself, was also suspended. The two were ruled ineligible for the 1947 French Championships. Until the arrival of Open tennis in 1968, any player who signed a contract with a professional promoter was immediately banned from all the world's great tournaments. However, Betz was banned without even having signed a contract, just for an inference contained in a letter sent by Palfrey’s husband, Elwood Cooke.
At the time of her suspension, Betz had been undefeated in her last 39 matches, earning the No. 1 ranking and had won five major titles – the U.S. National Women’s Singles Championship (four times in five years, 1942-44, 1946) and the Wimbledon Ladies Singles Championship (1946). She was a finalist at the French Championships in 1946.
Betz forged forward with a professional career in 1947, enjoying a 13-year career on tour with such notables as Don Budge and Riggs.
"Pauline never received the credit and accolades she so definitely deserved," said Billie Jean King.
On September 2, 1946, Betz was honored with a Time Magazine cover and for good reason – it was her best year playing, winning five major titles. The cover was a headshot of Betz placed on top of a wooden tennis racquet. Staring into the distance, the cover highlighted her dazzling green eyes and blonde hair. The caption read: The spice of her life: competition.
Betz was born in Dayton, Ohio, but learned tennis on public courts in Los Angeles, California. Her mother was a Physical Education teacher in the Watts section of Los Angeles, and Betz had inherited her athletic genes – she was a fit and trim 5-foot-5 speedster who possessed great mobility. Her all-court game aggravated her opponents into fits of frustration. She served and attacked the net with confidence and was a superb baseliner who hit winners off both her forehand and backhand.
These traits led Betz to six consecutive U.S. National finals (1941-1946) – a mark tied by Chris Evert in 1975. Betz won two of her three titles over Louise Brough (1942, 1943), each in three entertaining sets. The 1942 victory was a comeback effort, dropping the first set 6-4 and needed to rally 6-1, 6-4 to earn the victory. The 1943 triumph was a heart-stopping 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 victory. In 1946, Betz won the U.S. singles title with an 11-9, 6-3 victory over fellow American and doubles partner, Doris Hart.
The Betz-Hart doubles combination was fierce, playing together in four U.S. National Women’s Doubles finals (1942-45), then in the French, and Wimbledon Ladies Doubles finals, both in 1946. That glorious 1946 season saw Betz dispose of the great Brough in a major final, winning the Wimbledon Ladies Singles Championship, 6-2, 6-4. Betz nearly snagged the French n 1946, nudged out by American Margaret Osborne duPont, 1–6, 8–6, 7–5. She rebounded from that defeat nicely, however, teaming with Budge Patty to win the Mixed Doubles title conquering Americans Dorothy Bundy and Tom Brown, 7–5, 9–7.
Betz was ranked in U.S. Top 10 from 1939 to 1946 and earned the top spot in 1942-44, and 1946. Betz played briefly on the Wightman Cup team in 1946, going 3-0. In 1939 Betz became the first female awarded a tennis scholarship from Florida-based Rollins College, and in a fascinating historical tidbit she played No. 4 on the men’s team with Jack Kramer holding down the No.1 position. She graduated in 1943. In 1977 she was a charter member of the school’s Hall of Fame. Betz was married to Bob Addie, a well-known sports writer from the Herald Tribune and then the Washington Post. She authored Wings on My Tennis Shoes and Tennis for Teenagers and later taught tennis in Bethesda, Maryland. The Pauline Betz Addie Tennis Centre in Bethesda is named in her honor.
French Championships: F 1946
Wimbledon: W 1946
U.S. Nationals: W 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946
French Championships: F 1946
Wimbledon: F 1946
U.S. Nationals: F 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945
French Championships: W 1946
Wimbledon: SF 1946
U.S. Nationals: F 1941, 1943