Vintage Tennis Autographs

Stars of the Past -- 1920s thru 1960s

Pauline Betz Addie  (1919-2011)

Wimbledon 1946, USLTA Women's Singles 1942-44, 1946, Number One World Women’s Player 1946  [International Tennis Hall of Fame 1965]

My mother started me at tennis when I was about 7. I played on public courts and started entering tournaments when I was about 14.  Oh, I did pretty well in local tournaments. There was no money for travel. When I was a teen, the juniors were dominated by Barbara Winslow. At 16, she just about beat Alice Marble, so there was no chance of my getting cocky. Basically, I wanted to be good enough to win a college scholarship. Oh, I was competitive, I wanted to win. I behaved, but I did a lot of cussing under my breath. There were times my mother took my racket away from me. I didn't like to lose. One time I sent a pool cue through a window.  It didn't matter what I was doing, I hated to lose, hated it.  I toured with “Glamorous Gussie” Moran, Sarah Cook, my doubles partner at Wimbledon, and with Bobby Riggs and Pancho Segura. I remember the time we had a flat tire in the middle of Texas and they had no idea what to do. I showed them how to change a flat.
    Pauline Betz Addie

This John Pierotti cartoon appeared in newspapers in September 1945. I have one other Jack Sords cartoon dating to July 1946 autographed by Pauline Betz Addie.

She succeeded in winning her scholarship to Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida — and hit her stride on the national scene, dominating the U.S. Open at Forest Hills with singles championships in 1942, 1943 and 1944. In 1946, the year she swept Wimbledon, she returned to Forest Hills to win her fourth U.S. Open. In 1947, armed with what she jokes was a “useless degree in economics” and a world-beater tennis game, she turned pro, earning money by putting on exhibitions with other pros. 

Rosemary Casals  (1948-    )

Wimbledon Doubles 1967-68, 1970-71, 1973, Wimbledon Mixed Doubles 1970, 1972, U.S. Championships/Open Women's Doubles 1967, 1971, 1974, 1982, U.S. Championships/Open Mixed Doubles 1975    [International Tennis Hall of Fame 1996]

Tennis was all I ever wanted. In my little world, I wanted to be a tennis player. Even though there wasn't money in the game then, there was word of people who went to places like Wimbledon and Forest Hills. It was a great life.

        Rosie Casals

 

 

 

Rosie Casals autographed this 1973 Alan Maver cartoon in May 2011.

Watch a video clip of Rosie Casals in a 1977 match against Martina Navratilova.

Louise Brough Clapp  (1923-2014)

Australian Women’s Singles 1950, Wimbledon 1948-50,1955, USLTA Women's Singles 1947, Number One World Women’s Player 1955   [International Tennis Hall of Fame 1967]

The finest American twist [serve]. . . belongs to. . . Louise Brough, who has streamlined it to match that of many of our men.  She gets an enormously high bounce on this serve, and women are notoriously feeble in their efforts to return it, especially on the backhand.  If Louise's service costs her in energy spent, it pays off dividends in games won.
    Alice Marble

This Tom Paprocki cartoon appeared in newspapers in July 1950. I have two other  cartoons autographed by Louise Brough Clapp, both appearing in newspapers in 1942.

Louise Brough was born in Oklahoma City. When she was 4, her family moved to Cathay Circle, just east of Beverly Hills, and subsequently to Beverly Hills. She was introduced to tennis by a school chum, who took her to a Beverly Hills park and taught her how to keep score. “My teacher was Dick Skeen, who made me call people for matches,” said Clapp. “I finally made myself call Gussie Moran. She was from Santa Monica, and she was supposed to be outstanding.” They got together. The player who would become known as “Gorgeous Gussie” won. In the years to follow, Louise would become the winner. “But I only won the U.S. championship once (in 1947),” she said. Five times she was a runner-up at Forest Hills, losing twice to Betz, once to duPont, once to Hart and once to Gibson. Clapp said she has considered why she was so much more successful at Wimbledon than in the U.S. event. “Wimbledon was so well organized,” she said. “There were never a lot of distractions.”  Clapp captured a total of nine Wimbledon titles, including five with her longtime doubles partner, Margaret Osborne duPont. As a doubles player, Clapp's achievements are without parallel. The Clapp-duPont pairing won the United States championship for nine years in succession from 1942-1950. The team also took the French doubles in 1946, 1947 and 1949.

Watch a video clip of Louise Brough being defeated by Althea Gibson in the 1957 U. S. Women's Singles championship.

Nancy Chaffee Kiner Whitaker (1929-2002)

U.S. women’s indoor singles champion 1950-52

When I was playing I was an automatic almost into the semifinals of any tournament. That's just the way it was, a gap between the few top players and the rest. And there was no qualifying for tournaments.
    Nancy Chaffee Kiner

 

Nancy Chaffee Kiner autographed this 1950 Tom Paprocki cartoon.

Chaffee was ranked as high as the fourth tennis player in the world. She was a three-time national indoor champion and won the national junior championship twice. In the late 1940s, Chaffee played on the men's tennis team at the University of Southern California, which didn't have a women's team at the time. While a sophomore, she captured the 1947 United States girls' lawn tennis singles championship and teamed with Beverly Baker to win the doubles title. She emerged in the national spotlight in 1950, reaching the singles quarterfinals at Wimbledon and the singles semifinals of the United States nationals — the forerunner of the United States Open — in addition to winning the first of her indoor championships.  In 1951, she teamed with Patricia Todd in doubles at the nationals, losing in the final to Shirley Fry and Doris Hart, and she played doubles on the 1951 Wightman Cup team that defeated Britain, 6-1. Her highest world ranking came in 1951 just after Connolly, Hart and Fry. She was the national indoor titleholder from 1950 to 1952, defeating Althea Gibson, Beverly Baker and Patricia Todd in the finals, long before the open era and the advent of huge prize money. The indoor tournaments were played on the boards at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue in Manhattan before perhaps 2,000 fans at the final rounds. ”What did I win? A little silver ball and a silver ashtray with a glass base, and I don't even smoke. No money.” She  retired from most tournament play after winning the 1952 indoor title. Chaffee was previously married to baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner.

Watch a video clip of footage at Chaffee's wedding to Ralph Kiner in 1951. 

Beverly Baker Fleitz  (1930-    )

US Women's Clay Court Championships 1949 (runner-up), French Women's Doubles Champion 1955, US Hard Court Championships 1958  [Southern California Tennis Association Hall of Fame 2005]

 

 

Beverly Baker Fleitz autographed this 1955 Alan Maver cartoon in November 2009.

Shirley Fry Irvin (1927-    )

French Singles Champion 1951, Wimbledon 1956, US Open Women's Singles 1956,  Australian Women’s Singles 1957 [International Tennis Hall of Fame 1970]

Billie Jean [King] said I was her idol.  That flatters me because I really wasn't that good of a player. I wasn't a natural.  I had athletic ability. I could run and I could concentrate.
    Shirley Fry Irvin

Shirley Fry Irvin autographed this 1956 Tom Paprocki cartoon.

While growing up in Akron, Ohio, she was heavily influenced by her father, a former Ohio University track and field star who got her involved in swimming, ice skating, baseball, running, archery, badminton and, of course, tennis. “I was a real tomboy,” she admitted. It wasn't long before her tennis skills began to dwarf everything else. At age 10, she was traveling, often alone, to cities as far away as Philadelphia to play in junior tennis tournaments. She became a two-time national junior champion in 1944 and 1945 and earned a human-relations degree from Rollins College in Winter Park. Like nearly all junior players, she had visions of playing on Centre Court at Wimbledon. “My goal was to play there by 1945, but I couldn't because of (World War II),” she said. She made it in 1948, but was forced to default her quarterfinal match to Louise Brough because of a sprained ankle. Three years later, she reached the final but was trounced 6-1, 6-0 by friend Doris Hart, one of the game's all-time greats. Despite being one of the top-ranked Americans on the women's tour in her time, Fry quickly gained a reputation as a gifted player who couldn't win a major singles title. Finally, after nearly a decade on the tour, Fry retired in October 1954 because of a nagging elbow injury and because “I was tired of living out of a suitcase.” She came out of retirement a year later and won Wimbledon in 1956, beating Althea Gibson in the process.

Watch a video clip of Shirley Fry losing to Doris Hart in the final match at Wimbledon in 1951.

Doris Hart   (1926-    )

Australian Women’s Singles 1949, French Singles Champion 1950,1952, Wimbledon 1951, US Open Women's Singles 1954-55, Number One World Women’s Player 1951  [International Tennis Hall of Fame 1969]

Doris Hart autographed this 1952 Phil Bissell cartoon.

Hart collected six Grand Slam singles titles and 29 Grand Slam doubles titles before her playing days were over, and she was a permanent fixture in the U.S. top 10 in the 1950s. In 1951, she won a rare triple at Wimbledon, winning the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles. She made her first trip to the French Open in 1946, and it was memorable. “In those days they told us before we flew over to bring cigarettes and women's hosiery,” she said. “They were worth a lot. If you went out for dinner and left cigarettes as a tip, the waiters would go crazy over you. It was nothing to be walking down the Champs-Elysees and have people come up to you, recognizing you were American, and ask if you had cigarettes to sell.”

Watch a video clip of Doris Hart winning Wimbledon in 1951. 

Helen Hull Jacobs  (1908-1997)

USLTA No. 1 Ranking 1932-35, No. 1 World Ranking 1936 (12 years in Top Ten 1928-39), USLTA Women's Singles 1932-35, USLTA Women's Doubles 1932,1934-35, USLTA Mixed Doubles 1934, U.S. Girls' Singles 1924-25, All-England Women's Singles 1936, Italian Championships Women's Singles 1934, Italian Championships Women's Doubles 1934, Member U.S. Wightman Cup Team 1927-37,1939 [A.P. Athlete of the Year 1933, International Tennis Hall of Fame 1962]

It would be difficult to point out any outstanding shot Helen Jacobs had--her service was sound, her backhand good, her forehand bad; she had a well-made defensive slice, a fair volley and overhead.  But she had something else: more will to win, more drive and guts than anyone else.  Plagued by sprains and other injuries throughout her tennis career, Helen never gave up.  That she was four times National Champion and once Wimbledon titleholder is proof enough that you can win if your desire is big enough.
    Alice Marble

 

In this note on a 3x5 card, Helen Hull Jacobs praises her doubles partners--Sarah Palfrey Danzig and George Lott in mixed doubles.

 

In about 1990, my son, David, sent this colored pencil sketch to Helen Hull Jacobs.  David was about ten years old at the time.  Helen commented on the unflattering drawing.  She asked, "Who Dis?!  Not me!"  We had written that David had used a photo of her that appeared in a tennis encyclopedia.  She wrote, "I ought to sue your tennis encyclopedia!  Tell David I weigh 105 lbs."  The drawing is in his collection. 

Helen Hull Jacobs autographed this 1943 Jack Sords cartoon. I also have a Jacobs-signed Paprocki cartoon that appeared in newspapers in the early 1930s.

She also was a mainstay for the U.S. Wightman Cup team in 1927-39. But her achievements were always measured against the brilliance of Helen Wills Moody. More gracious than graceful, more indomitable than invincible, always trying but seldom triumphant, Ms. Jacobs played “Helen the Second” to Moody's “Helen the First.” Ms. Jacobs scored only one victory in 11 matches against Moody.   She won Wimbledon in 1936 to gain No. 1, and the U.S. singles from 1932-35. Only she, Molla Mallory (1915-18) and Chris Evert (1975-78) seized that title in four consecutive years. Her daring as a superb volleying attacker seemed matched in 1933 by her nerve in introducing what was considered an outrageous article of clothing for a woman on the court: shorts. Thought racy at the time, her baggy shorts were identical to those worn by Pete Sampras today — knee-length with a navy stripe on either side. That year she found her promised land on the lawn at Forest Hills, at last beating the baselining Moody in the U.S. final. It was her lone triumph in 11 shots at Wills, but even that wasn't too satisfactory. At 3-3 in the third set, Wills walked out, defaulting, pleading back pains, even though Jacobs said she would grant her foe a rest period. Two years later, in the 1935 Wimbledon final, Jacobs came closest to the real thing: a match point in the third set. Moody lofted a desperate short lob, but as Jacobs prepared to smash it, a sudden gust of wind whisked the ball away from her. Trying to follow it, she ended on her knees tapping it into the net.

Watch a video clip of Helen Hull Jacobs taking runner-up in the 1940 U. S. Women's Singles Tournament.  Watch a video clip of Jacobs in a match at Wimbledon in 1933.  Watch a video clip of Jacobs defeating Helen Wills Moody to take the U. S. Women's Singles title in 1933.  Watch a video clip of Jacobs defeating Sarah Palfrey for the third time in a row in the 1934 U. S. Women's Singles championships.  Watch a video clip of Jacobs winning a Wightman Cup match at Forest Hills in 1937.  Watch a video clip of Jacobs winning Wimbledon in 1936.

Alice Marble  (1913-1990)

USLTA Girls' Doubles Champion 1931, USLTA Hard Court Girls' Singles Champion 1931, USLTA Hard Court Girls' Doubles Champion 1929-30, USLTA No. 1 Ranking 1936-40, USLTA Women's Singles 1936,1938-40, USLTA Women's Doubles 1937-40, USLTA Mixed Doubles 1936,1938-40, USLTA Clay Court Women's Singles 1940, All-England Women's Singles 1939, All-England Women's Doubles 1938-39, Irish Women's Singles 1939, Member U.S. Wightman Cup Team 1933,1937-39   [A.P. Athlete of the Year 1939-40, International Tennis Hall of Fame 1964]

I came up in the play streets. The supervisor took me to the elite black tennis club in New York. Alice Marble was playing an exhibition. It was there I first saw her play. I was mesmerized. I was a young girl, about 15 or 16.  She was my idol.  She will always be unforgettable to me and to all tennis players. She was one of the greatest ever, definitely.

     Althea Gibson

On this 3x5 card, Alice Marble named Sarah Palfrey Danzig as the person she would most like to pair up with in doubles.


Alice Marble autographed this 1933 Jack Sords cartoon.

Alice Marble’s style of tennis in the 1930s and '40s changed the women's game. Marble won a Wimbledon title, four US Open singles titles and 39 national doubles titles with her aggressive serve-and-volley attack. In 1939, she won all six Wimbledon and US Open championships in singles, doubles and mixed doubles. She was the No. 1-ranked women's tennis player in the country from 1936-1940.  Marble turned professional in 1941 after winning 18 Grand Slam titles. With Mary Hartwig of England, they were the undercard match for Bill Tilden, Don Budge, Kramer and other touring pros. Marble was married briefly to Captain Joe Crowley, an intelligence officer with the Army Air Forces who was shot down and killed over Germany in 1944, a few months after she lost their unborn baby in an automobile accident. After that double tragedy, she accepted a spy mission from the Army, in which she collected enemy intelligence while touring Switzerland as a tennis pro. While gathering information that was later used in the Nuremberg war crimes trials, Ms. Marble was shot in the back by a German agent.

Watch a video clip of Alice Marble in the 1938 U. S. Singles Championship.  Watch a video clip of Marble winning the 1940 U. S. Women's Singles Title.  Watch a video clip of Marble and Sarah Palfrey winning the 1940 U. S. Women's Doubles Title.

Sarah Hammond Palfrey Fabyan Cooke Danzig  (1912-1996)

[International Tennis Hall of Fame 1963]

I used to practice against a twelve-foot space of brick wall in back of our house in Brookline.  The ground was too uneven for the ball to bounce, so I had to hit all shots on the fly.  This must have helped me to become a good volleyer and doubles player, since volleying became the best part of my game.  After paying for too many broken windows, my parents decided it would be less expensive to have a wooden wall nailed to the inside of the far end of our garage.  My sisters and I painted a white line the height of a tennis net and practiced happily, even in wintertime.  Why our neighbors didn't complain about the noise I'll never understand.
    Sarah Palfrey

 

This Tom Paprocki cartoon is one of three autographed by Sarah Palfrey Danzig in my collection.  I also have a signed 1928 cartoon and a Jack Sords cartoon.

One of the most elegant tennis players ever to grace a grass court, Sarah Palfrey Danzig collected 18 Grand Slam titles, most of them in doubles where, because of her uncommon artistry around the net, she was a coveted partner in women's as well as mixed doubles competitions. And her beatific courtside manner made her a favorite with spectators in the United States and abroad, where she garnered 24 titles.  Early on, she received the attention and instruction of Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, the progenitor of the international Wightman Cup competition between teams from the United States and Britain, and a front-runner in making the volley an essential component of women's tennis. As a result of that association, Mrs. Danzig not only excelled at the net, but she was also selected to be a member of 10 Wightman Cup teams. Her doubles partners there — Helen Jacobs, Helen Wills Moody and Alice Marble — constituted a veritable Who's Who of women's tennis. The U.S. National champion in singles in 1941 and again in 1945, Mrs. Danzig ranked among the world's top 10 women on six occasions between 1933 and '39. She was the U.S. doubles champion nine times and captured the Wimbledon doubles title, alongside the equally glamorous Marble, in 1938 and '39. Mrs. Danzig rose to prominence on the national scene as a teen-ager. At 14, she won the Junior Grass Court Doubles in 1927 and she began dominating both singles and doubles junior events the following year. By the time she acquired her last amateur national title in 1945 at a doubles clay-court championship where her partner was Elwood Cooke, the second of her three husbands, Mrs. Danzig possessed a total of 63 national titles.  Mrs. Danzig briefly turned professional in 1947 for an exhibition tour with Pauline Betz.  Though a woman who'd had every advantage, Sarah showed plenty of heart. Along with her pal and doubles partner, Alice Marble, she campaigned and lobbied the US Tennis Association successfully to scrap the ages-old color bar and permit Althea Gibson to play at the upper level amid whites in 1950.

Watch a video clip of Alice Marble and Sarah Palfrey winning the 1940 U. S. Women's Doubles Title.  Watch a video clip of Helen Hull Jacobs defeating Sarah Palfrey for the third time in a row in the 1934 U. S. Women's Singles championships.

Margaret Smith Court (1942-    )

French Open Women’s Singles 1969-70,1973, Australian Open Women’s Singles 1969-71,1973, Wimbledon 1963,1965,1970, US Open Women’s Singles 1962,1965,1969-70,1973  [International Tennis Hall of Fame 1979]

I loved the time I had in the sport. When you stop enjoying it and you have no goals, it's time to give it up.
    Margaret Smith Court

 

Margaret Court autographed this 1962 Tom Paprocki cartoon.

Court was the dominant women's tennis player of the 1960s. As Margaret Smith she went to Wimbledon in 1962 as a heavy favorite, but in a famous upset lost to American Billie Jean Moffit (later Billie Jean King). Smith returned the next year and became the first Australian to win it all. She retired in 1966, married and started a family, but returned to tennis in 1970. That year Margaret Smith Court won the rare Grand Slam: singles titles at Wimbledon plus the U.S., French and Australian Open tournaments. All in all, Court won 62 Grand Slam events (singles and doubles), the most in history. In 1991 she was ordained as a Christian minister and founded the Victory Life Church in Perth, Australia. She was enshrined in the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1979.  Court won the Australian Open every year from 1960-1966 and 11 times in all, the last in 1973... Her record of 62 major titles has lasted into the 21st century... The only other women to complete the Grand Slam in one year are Maureen Connolly (1953) and Steffi Graf (1988).

Watch a video clip of Magaret Court in 1971 at Wimbledon.  Watch a video clip of Margaret Court in a match with Virginia Wade in the 1972 Dewar Cup.  Watch a video clip of Margaret Smith Court being defeated in the 1964 Wimbledon finals by Maria Bueno.

Watch a Video Clip of:

  • Don Budge

  • Rosie Casals

  • Louise Brough Clapp

  • Margaret Court

  • Sarah Palfrey Cooke Danzig

  • Roy Emerson

  • Shirley Fry Irvin

  • Doris Hart

  • Helen Hull Jacobs

  • Jack Kramer

  • Rod Laver

  • George Lott

  • Barry MacKay

  • Don McNeill

  • Gene Mako

  • Alice Marble

  • John Newcombe

  • Alex Olmedo

  • Frank Parker

  • Budge Patty

  • Fred Perry

  • Dennis Ralston

  • Marty Riessen

  • Bobby Riggs

  • Dick Savitt

  • Ted Schroeder

  • Frank Sedgman

  • Stan Smith

  • Bill Talbert

  • Tony Trabert

  • Ellsworth Vines

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