Dynamic, strong-minded and gutsy, Gladys M. Heldman (b.1922) fought and won the battle for parity in women’s professional tennis. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford, heldman took up tennis at age 25 following her marriage to scientist Julius Heldman, former U.S. junior champion. She became devoted to the game, achieving a ranking within two years and competing at Forest Hills andn Wimbledon. In 1953 she founded¬†World Tennis¬†magazine.

During her highly successful 20-year tenure as magazine editor and publisher, Heldman served as a leading advocate for players. In 1970, with women receiving a fraction of men’s prize money, Heldman organized the first professional tournament for women; she obtained sponsorship from Virginia Slims and launched the women’s pro circuit. In 1979 Heldman joined a select group of non-players to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Career Highlights

  • B.A.’42 Stanford University, Phi Beta kappa (No.1 in class); M.A.’43 University of California at Berkeley (in medieval history)
  • Founder, Publisher and Editor of World Tennis magazine 1953-1972
  • Ranked No.1 in Texas 1951, 1952
  • Played in the U.S. Championships 1949-1953, Wimbledon 1954
  • Ranked in USTA Top 10 in Women’s 35 Doubles, Women’s 45 Doubles, Mother and Daughter 1979
  • Staged U.S. National Indoor Championships with record profit 1959
  • Organized and brought 82 overseas players by chartered plane to compete in U.S. National Championships 1962
  • Founder and Organizer, Women’s Pro Tour (Virginia Slims) 1970-1973
  • Founder and Organizer, Futures Tour (Avon Circuit) 1975-1976
  • Brought first-ever Women’s Pro Tour to Europe 1971
  • Brought first-ever Women’s Pro Tour to Japan 1972
  • Staged first-ever $100,000 tournament in Boca Raton, Florida 1972
  • Winner of USTA Service Bowl 1952
  • U.S. Tennis Writers Annual Award 1965
  • World Championship Tennis Annual Award 1980
  • Women’s Sports Foundation Annual Award 1982
  • Author of Tennis (with Pancho Gonzales); The Book of Tennis (with Cornel Lumiere); Championship Strategy (with Pancho Segura); and a novel, The Harmonetics Investigation
  • Inducted into the International Tennis hall of Fame 1979
  • Inducted into the Texas Tennisi Hall of Fame 1988