Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman (b.1886 -d.1974) was among the most influential figures in tennis, as well as the most beloved. “Mrs. Wightie’ is celebrated for her lifelong work promoting women’s tennis, embodied in the the ladies International Tennis Challenge – better known as the Wightman Cup.
Born in the early days of American tennis, Wightman learned to play at the nearby courts of the University of California at Berkelely where she graduated in 1911. Her rivalry with fellow Californian, May Sutton, shaped a new women’s game, with Wightman attacking the net to counter Sutton’s dominating forehand. In her 60-year playing career, Wightman earned 44 national titles and an unparalleled reputation for sportsmanship.
Wightman’s battle for international competition in women’s tennis resulted in the Wightman Cup challenge between the U.S. and Great Britain, first played in 1923. Wightman served five years as a team member and 13 years as Captain. The mother of five children, she also devoted herself to teaching other young people, opening her home near Boston’s Longwood Cricket Club to aspiring champions.
In recognition of Wightman’s contributions to tennis, the USTA Service Bowl was donated in her honor. In 1973 Queen Elizabeth II named Wightman an honorary Commander of the British Empire.
- 17 Grand Slam titles (4 Singles, 7 Doubles, 6 Mixed Doubles)
- Pioneered international competition in women’s tennis with the Wightman Cup challenge between U.S. and Great Britain, first played in 1923
- Three U.S. Triple Crowns 1909, 1910, 1911
- Olympic Gold Medalist in Doubles and Mixed Doubles 1924
- U.S. Singles Champion 1909-1911, 1919
- U.S. Doubles Champion 1909-1911, 1915, 1924, 1928
- U.S. Mixed Doubles Champion 1909-1911, 1915, 1918, 1920
- Wimbledon Doubles Champion 1924
- U.S. Indoor Champion 1919, 1927
- U.S. Indoor Doubles Champion 1919, 1921, 1927-1931, 1933, 1943
- U.S. Indoor Mixed Doubles Champion 1923, 1924, 1926-1928
- U.S. Grass Court Champion in Womens 40 Doubles 1940-1942, 1944, 1946-1950, 1952, 1954
- U.S. Wightman Cup Team Member 19232, 1924, 1927, 1929, 1931
- U.S. Wightman Cup Team Captain 1923, 1924, 1927, 1929, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1937-1939, 1946-1948
- Author, Better Tennis
- Coached women champions including Sarah Palfrey, Helen Wills, and Helen Jacobs
- Winner of USTA Service Bowl, donated in Wightman’s honor – 1940, 1946
- Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame 1957
- Named Honorary Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973
- Inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame 1986