Author Kim Addonizio shares memories of her aging mother, the former “first lady of tennis.”
(Photo courtesy of Rollins College Archives & Special Collections)
Pauline Betz Addie ’43, who passed away four years ago at the age of 91, was recently featured in the New York Times opinion section.
Addie was a five-time Grand Slam singles champion and world's top-ranked woman in April 1947. Time magazine dubbed her “the first lady of tennis” in a cover story in 1946.
She was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1919 and raised in Los Angeles where she was taught tennis by her tennis-playing mother. Pauline bought her first tennis racket when she was nine, trading some of her father's pipe collection for it at a thrift shop.
‘Miss Betz’ had quickness on her feet and a backhand shot which distinguished her as a potential star on the local public courts. In 1939, she attained her first national ranking in the top 10; she was 19. That same year while playing at Rollins, where she played on the men's tennis team, she filled in at the No. 4 spot.
While at Rollins she was known as a gifted all-around athlete, playing table tennis, golf, or pickup basketball games with men. She graduated in 1943 and climbed to the top of both the United States and international rankings.
Addie continued to compete at the club level until 2003 because she wanted to “keep up” with her grandchildren, whom she had taught the game. Betz Addie was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1965. Her resume includes winning the U.S. Championships in 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946, the French Championships (mixed doubles) in 1946, and hoisting the Wimbledon trophy in 1946. In 1997 she marched in the United States Open parade of champions to help christen Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, New York.
The Pauline Betz Addie Tennis Center is located in Bethesda, Maryland.
Read the full New York Times opinion article here.