HELEN HULL JACOBS


A gutsy competitor with a powerful backhand, Helen Hull Jacobs (b.1908) was the first tennis player to be voted Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year. Like her greatest rival, Helen Wills, Jacobs attended the University of California at Berkeley and worked with coaches William ‘Pop’ Fuller andHazel Wightman. Mrs. Wightman called Jacobs “the most satisfying pupil I’ve ever taught.”

Popular among playeres and fans alike, Jacob’s determination and skill led her to four straight U.S. singles championships. Her last match with Wills in the 1938 Wimbledon finals showcased her fighting spirit: she refused to default despite a severe foot injury. During World War II Jacobs took courses at the College of William & Mary in preparation for training as a U.S. Navy WAVE. She attained the rank of Commander in the Naval Reserve.

Career Highlights

  • 9 Grand Slam titles (5 Singles, 3 Doubles, 1 Mixed Doubles)
  • Finalist in 17 Grand Slam championship matches
  • Ranked in USTA Top 10 from 1927-1929, 1931-1937, 1939-1941; No.1 in 1932-1935
  • U.S Girls’ 18 Singles Champion 1924, 1925
  • U.S. Singles Champion 1932-1935
  • U.S. Doubles Champion 1932, 1934-1935
  • U.S. Mixed Doubles Champion 1934
  • Italian Singles, Doubles Champion 1934
  • Wimbledon Singles Champion 1936
  • Seeded in the Wimbledon Top 10 from 1928-1937, 1939
  • U.S. Wightman Cup Team Member 1927-1937, 1939 (19-11 record)
  • Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year 1933
  • Author of 20 books of fiction and non-fiction, including Beyond the Game and Famous Modern American Women Athletes
  • Inducted into the University of California Athletic Hall of Fame; the College of William & Mary Athletic Hall of Fame; the Northern California Tennis Hall of Fame; and the San Francisco Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame
  • Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame 1962
  • Recipient of thte Tennis Immortal Award from the Tennis Writers Association 1968