Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Helen Wills Moody
Helen Wills Moody (October 6, 1905 – January 1, 1998) was one of the greatest women's tennis players of all time, dominating the 1920s and 1930s. She won 31 major titles (singles, doubles, and mixed doubles) over her career, including seven U.S. singles championships (1923-25, 1927-29, and 1931), eight Wimbledon singles titles (1927-30, 1932-33, 1935, and 1938), and four French singles titles (1928-30 and 1932). She also won two Olympic gold medals in Paris in 1924 (singles and doubles), the last year tennis was an Olympic sport until 1988. She was the U.S. girls' singles champion 1921-22. She won her first women's national title at the age of 17 (1923), making her the youngest champion at that time. She won the finals of her first 16 major titles in straight sets. Between 1919 and 1938 she amassed a 398-35 match record, including a 158-match winning streak (1927-32), during which she did not lose a single set. She was a member of the U.S. Wightman Cup team 1923-25, 1927-32, and 1938. Her unchanging expression earned her the nickname "Little Miss Poker Face". She helped free women tennis players from ankle-length skirts and petticoats, typically wearing a white sailor suit having a pleated knee-length skirt, white shoes, and a white visor. She was named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 1935, and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1969. She wrote a coaching manual, Tennis (1928), her autobiography, Fifteen-Thirty: The Story of a Tennis Player (1937), and a mystery, Death Serves an Ace (1939, with Robert Murphy).
She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Fine Arts in 1927. In Berkeley she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She painted all her life, giving exhibitions of her paintings and etchings in New York galleries. She was born Helen Newington Wills, but married Frederick Moody in December 1929, giving her the name by which she is most well known. She divorced Moody in 1937 and married Aidan Roark in October 1939.
- Bio from the International Tennis Hall of Fame
- New York Times Obituary
- Women in American History by Encyclopaedia Britannica
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