HELEN WILLS MOODY
WHOEVER reaches the top in any department of intellectual, artistic, or athletic competition has some interesting personal qualities. It is impossible for one to reach lonely eminence without them.
Of course the world loves a champion, and crowds follow him about; there is intense curiosity to see him. But I mean something quite different from the adoration of success. Also something quite different from the excitement over athletic sports.
The father of Helen Wills brought her up to be a tennis champion. She did not take to the game naturally as a child; she preferred to play Indians and what not. But she has left it on record that her father aroused both her interest and her ambition.
At the age of fifteen, she won the national junior championship for girls. The next year she was ranked third among the women players of the United States, and the year following she was Champion. The rest is history. At her first appearance in Wimbledon in 1926 for the British championships, she was beaten by Kitty McKane, after having the match apparently safe in her hands. Never again was she to come so close to winning, and lose.
The question that will always be discussed by those interested in tennis is this: Granted that Suzanne Lenglen was the greatest of all European women players and Helen Wills the greatest of all American women players, which of these two was better than the other at her prime? It is
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Publication information: Book title: Autobiography, with Letters. Contributors: William Lyon Phelps - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1939. Page number: 896.
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