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Helen Wills Moody Roark

University of California at Berkeley


Helen Wills (b.1905) dominated women’s tennis in the 1920’s and 1930’s with her unrivaled concentration and driving attack from the baseline, which netted her 31 Grand Slam titles. Wills began her tennis career at age 13, developing her skills playing against men. In 1924, she earned two Olympic gold medals. Several years later, she earned a Phi Beta Kappa key as a student at the University of California at Berkeley.

Wills became an international sensation after her 1926 match against French champion Suzanne Lenglen, with Lenglen barely defeating the younger player. Returning from an illness the next year, Wills won every set she played from 1927 to 1933. With her distinctive eyeshade and inscrutable game face, Wills was often regarded as cold and aloof. Yet as she explained, “I had one thought, and that was to put the ball across the net.”

Career Highlights
    31 Grand Slam titles (19 Singles, 9 Doubles, 3 Mixed Doubles)
    Ranked in USTA Top 10 from 1922-1925, 1927-1929, 1931, 1933; No.1 in 1923-25, 1927-1929, 1931
    Olympic Gold Medalist in singles and doubles, Paris 1924
    U.S. Girls’18 Singles Champion 1921-1922, Doubles 1922
    U.S. Singles Champion 1923-1925, 1927-1929, 1931
    U.S. Doubles Champion 1922, 1924-1925, 1928
    U.S. Mixed Doubles Champion 1924, 1928
    Wimbledon Singles Champion 1927-1930, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1938
    Wimbledon Doubles Champion 1924, 1927, 1930
    Wimbledon Mixed Doubles Champion 1929
    French Singles Champion 1928-1930, 1932
    French Doubles Champion 1930, 1932
    U.S. Wightman Cup Team Member 1923 (inaugural year), 1924-1925, 1927-1932, 1938 (21-9 record)
    Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year 1935
    Author of Fifteen-Thirty: The Story of a Tennis Player and Death Serves an Ace (with Robert Murphy)
    Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame 1959
    1926 singles match with Suzanne Lenglen ranked among the top 20 greatest matches of all time by Tennis magazine 1980
Other 1996 Inductees
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