Biography of Famous Tennis Player and Athlete Helen Wills Moody

About the biography of the famous tennis player and athlete Helen Wills Moody, history and information.

Helen Wills Moody

Everyone thought it was to be the 1st of many classic matches when the Princess, Helen Wills, at last faced the Queen, Suzanne Lenglen, of France. But the Fates intervened and this historic 1926 match between 2 of the greatest women players in the history of tennis turned out to be the only time they ever met.

Helen Wills was 15 and in pigtails when she gave her 1st intimations of greatness. Born in Berkeley, Calif., she attended the University of California. Years of hard work, excellent coaching and competing against men players gave her unusual power, pinpoint control, unexcelled timing and tempo. Her classic beauty, her slim grace, her white visor and imperturbable features all became famous trademarks.

Helen reached the U.S. finals in 1922, when she was 16. She won the national championships 7 times, the 1st in 1923 when she was 17, the last in 1931. She helped her doubles team win in 1922, 1924-1925, and 1928. She was the Olympic singles and doubles champion in 1924. In 1927 she took the 1st of 8 Wimbledon titles in singles play.

Between 1927 and 1933, "Little Miss Poker Face" went undefeated and, amazingly, did not lose a set from 1927 until her Wimbledon match in 1933.

The only woman in the world who was considered better than Helen Wills was Suzanne Lenglen, the French legend who had never been defeated in her own country, who had won the Wimbledon singles title 6 times and had been enthroned as international champion. A match that could have filled the Coliseum was staged at the tiny Carlton Club in Cannes in 1926, amid near-riots and fainting bodies. The French veteran worked carefully in the 1st set, overcame a 1-2 deficit and won it 6-3. Helen took the 1st 3 games of the 2nd set and Suzanne gasped to the sidelines for cognac. She evened the match, and then Helen went to 5-4. Suzanne, benefiting from a bad call, pushed it to 6-5 but Helen fought gamely to even it at 6-6. Helen brought the final 2 games to deuce but Suzanne was too clever for her. She took the set and the match 8-6 and promptly fainted. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Lenglen turned pro and the girls never met again.

In 1933 it looked as though the reign of the new Helen Wills Moody had finally ended when she defaulted to Helen Jacobs in the 3rd set of the finals at Forest Hills, saying a back injury made it impossible to continue. But in 1935, in a thrillingly close one, she came back to defeat Ms. Jacobs at Wimbledon 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. She won the Wimbledon title for the last time in 1938, once more playing against Helen Jacobs.

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