Class of 2006
World No. 3 (1932)
Grand Slam Results
13-time major champion, 12-time finalist
Contributions to Tennis
The women’s doubles trophy at the French Open is named for Mathieu, Coupe Simonne-Mathieu
Advertisers have used tennis players to sell products in a myriad of ways, from cereal to soft drinks to cigarettes. In 1936, Player’s Cigarettes depicted Frenchwomen Simonne Mathieu ready to unleash a driving backhand. The caption: “Note forearm rolled back to open racquet face. Left hand used to steady racquet. Body leaning forward.” In terms of textbook form, a better player couldn’t have been chosen. Alongside Suzanne Lenglen, Françoise Dürr, and Amélie Mauresmo, Mathieu is one of France’s greatest female champions.
A former French junior champion in 1926 as a young bride, Mathieu won 13 major titles, all but two in doubles, which trails Lenglen’s remarkable 31 titles among French female players. She was a six-time French Championships finalist and it wasn’t until her 13th trip to the tournament in 1938 that she won her first singles trophy. A finalist in 1929, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1936, and 1937, Mattieu was defeated in straight sets in all but one final (1933) and lost three times to Germany’s Hilde Krahwinkel Sperling (1935, 1936, 1937), twice to Helen Wills Moody (1929, 1932), and once to Brit Peggy Scriven (1933). When Mathieu finally won the title, it was in resounding fashion, pounding fellow Frenchwomen Nelly Landry, 6-0, 6-3. She defended her title in 1939, a straight sets victory over Poland’s Jadwiga Jedrzejowska, 6-3, 8-6.
As time, travel, and financial resources dictated, not all players of the era appeared in every major championship. Mathieu never played in Australia and only twice at the U.S. National Championships (1938, 1939), where she was a quarterfinalist and withdrew in the first round, respectively. The French and Wimbledon Championships were her events of choice. From 1930 to 1939, Mathieu was a staple in the hunt for a Wimbledon singles title, appearing in six semifinals (1930-1932, 1934, 1936, 1937) and four quarterfinals (1933, 1935, 1938, 1939).
Her specialty was doubles and in 1938 earned a rare “triple” at Roland Garros, sweeping the singles, doubles, and mixed doubles competitions. Only Lenglen (1925, 1926), Maureen Connolly (1954), and Margaret Smith Court (1964) have achieved that distinction. Mathieu won six French doubles titles, two with American Elizabeth Ryan (1933, 1934), three with Great Britain’s Billie Yorke (1936, 1937, 1938) and one with Jedrzejowska (1939). She and Ryan teamed to win the 1933 and 1934 Wimbledon titles and a third was earned with Yorke in 1937. She was a finalist in four other major doubles events, including the 1938 U.S. Championships alongside Jedrzejowska. She won two French mixed doubles titles with two different partners and played for the 1937 mixed Wimbledon title alongside Yvon Petra, her first French mixed doubles teammate.
Mathieu was ranked in the World Top 10 eleven times and reached No. 3 in 1932 behind Moody and Helen Hull Jacobs. In 1928, she became the number one player in France, a status she held through 1940.
In 1940 Mathieu presented herself to General de Gaulle, convincing him to establish a women’s auxiliary to the Free French forces, and she herself enrolled in January 1941. By 1941 the organization had over 100 female volunteers. During the terrible years of conflict she fought with the same determination she showed on the tennis court, ending the war with the rank of Captain. She marched down the Champs Elysees alongside de Gaulle when Paris was liberated in August of 1944. After a separation of four years, she was reunited with her family—and with tennis. She served as umpire for the “liberation match” between Henri Cochet and Petra at Stade Roland Garros on September 17th, 1944 wearing her uniform as an officer in the French forces.
In the post-war period, Mathieu ran Smash (a tennis magazine that had been founded by her husband), and published yearly tennis guidebooks. The trophy awarded to the winners of the Women’s Doubles competition at the French Open is named Coupe Simonne-Mathieu after one of the country’s greatest players.
French Championships: W 1938, 1939
Wimbledon: SF 1930, 1931, 1932, 1934, 1936, 1937
U.S. Nationals: QF 1938
French Championships: W 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939
Wimbledon: W 1933, 1934, 1937
U.S. Nationals: F 1938
French Championships: W 1937, 1938
Wimbledon: F 1937
U.S. Nationals: QF 1939