On this day, 97 years ago, June 20, 1919, Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman beat Marion Zinderstein (6-1, 6-2) in the 33rd U.S. Women’s National Tennis Championship.
Wightman, a initiate of the Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter at the University of California-Berkeley, won the title four times, 1909, 1910, 1911, and 1919. The time between the 1911 and 1919 wins was taken with marriage and the birth of three children. After her marriage to George Wightman, she gave birth to two children in quick succession. With her husband’s support and encouragement, she resumed playing tennis again. At that time, no woman had ever come back to competitive tennis after having children. In 1915, she returned to the U.S. Open and reached the finals in the women’s singles. She won the women’s doubles and mixed doubles for the fourth time each.
Her 1919 win was after giving birth to her third child. After this singles championship, she chose to concentrate on doubles play.
While a student at Berkeley, she was a member of the tennis team and president of the Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter. She also influenced another young tennis player, who became a star in her own right, Helen Will Moody. They met at the Berkeley Tennis Club in 1920 when Helen Will was 14. Years later, in a Reader’s Digest article, Moody credited that chance meeting with Wightman as life changing. While a student at Berkeley, she, too, became a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter, just as her mentor had done. Moody would go on to win 31 Grand Slam titles and two Olympic Gold medals.
Wightman also mentored and coached Helen Hull Jacobs, a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta chapter at Berkeley.
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