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Fern Peachy Kellmeyer

University of Miami


Western Virginia native Fern ‘Peachy’ Kellmeyer (b.1944) stands among the pioneers who changed the face of women’s tennis. A junior champion in the 1950’s, Kellmeyer went on to play No. 1 on the University of Miami Women’s Tennis team and became the first woman to compete on a Division I men’s squad. Hired as physical education director and coach at Florida’s Marymount College in 1966, Kellmeyer sued successfully to overturn an NCAA rule barring women’s athletic scholarships – blazing a trail for Title IX legislation.

In 1973 Kellmeyer was tapped by founder Gladys Heldman as the first tour director of the fledgling Virginia Slims circuit. She pushed continuously to secure additional venues and increased prize money for her players; and in 1977, she brought the first woman’s tennis tournament to Madison Square Garden.

Currently senior vice-president of the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Tour, Kellmeyer says, “I’m proud to see what has happened with women’s athletics. Women will just keep fighting into the next century.”

Career Highlights
    West Virginia State Singles Champion 1957, 1958
    Orange Bowl Champion (13-and-under nationals) 1957
    Penn State Tournament Champion in all three junior divisions 1957
    Girls’ 15 Singles Finalist 1959
    Youngest player (age 15) invited to compete at U.S. nationals at Forest Hills 1959
    Winner of the USTA Girls’ Sportsmanship Trophy 1962
    U.S. Junior Wightman Cup Team Member 1963
    B.A.’66 Miami; M.A.’74 Florida Atlantic University
    No.1 player on the University of Miami women’s tennis team 1964-1966
    First woman to play on the men’s tennis team at the University of Miami 1964-1966
    Ranked in the USTA Top 10 1966
    Coach, Marymount College women’s tennis team 1966-1971; Florida state champions 1970
    Coach, U.S. Bonne Bell Cup Team 1974
    Referee, 1st Virginia Slims Championships 1972
    Tour Director, Virginia Slims Tennis 1973-1976
    Executive Director, Virginia Slims Tennis 1977-1981
    Organized first women’s tennis event (Virginia Slims Championship) at Madison Square Garden 1977
    Director, WTA 1981-1993
    Vice-President of Operations and Player Relations, WTA, 1993-1998; Senior Vice-President 1998 – present
    Member, WTA Tour Board of Directors 1973 – present
    Davis Gray Special Service Award 1987
    Distinguished West Virginian Award 1988
    Shaping the Future of Women’s Tennis/Virginia Slims Award 1990
    Peachy Kellmeyer Stadium Court named at the Charleston, W.Va. Tennis Club Club 1992
    Virginia Slims Tournament Directors Award 1992
Other 1999 Inductees
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