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Maureen Connolly Brinker
Born September 17, 1934
San Diego, California, U.S.
Died June 21, 1969 (aged 34)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Nationality  United States
Spouse(s) Norman E. Brinker
(1955-1969)
Children Cindy Simmons
Brenda Bottum

Maureen Catherine ("Little Mo") Connolly Brinker (September 17, 1934 – June 21, 1969) was an American tennis player who was the first woman to win all four Grand Slam tournaments during the same calendar year.

Contents

Biography

Connolly was born in San Diego, California, U.S. As a child, she loved horseback riding, but her mother was unable to pay the cost of riding lessons. So, she took up the game of tennis.

Connolly's career began at the age of 10 on the municipal courts of San Diego. Her first coach, Wilbur Folsom, encouraged her to switch from a left-handed grip to right and she soon became a baseline specialist with tremendous power, accuracy, and a strong backhand. At age 14, she won 56 consecutive matches and the following year became the youngest ever to win the U.S. national championship for girls 18 and under.

At the 1951 U.S. Championships, the 16 year old Connolly defeated Shirley Fry to become, at that time, the youngest ever to win America's most prestigious tennis tournament.

Connolly successfully defended her U.S. title and won Wimbledon in 1952. For the 1953 season, she hired a new coach, the Australian Davis Cup captain Harry Hopman, and entered all four Grand Slam tournaments for the first time. She defeated Julie Sampson Haywood in the Australian Championships final and Doris Hart in the finals of the French Championships, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Championships to become the first woman, and only the second person, to win the world's four major titles in the same year, commonly known as a "Grand Slam". She lost only one set in those four tournaments.

In 1954, Connolly did not defend her title at the Australian Championships but successfully defended her French and Wimbledon championships. On July 20, 1954, two weeks after she won her third straight Wimbledon title, she was horseback riding when an accident with a truck crushed her right leg, ending her tennis career at age 19.

Grand Slam singles results for Connolly's 11 appearances:

  1. Australian Championships - 1 time: Winner 1953
  2. French Championships - 2 times: Winner 1953, 1954
  3. Wimbledon - 3 times: Winner 1952, 1953, 1954
  4. U.S. Championships - 5 times (1949–1953): Winner 1951, 1952, 1953

Connolly won the last nine Grand Slam singles tournaments she played, including 50 consecutive singles matches. During her Wightman Cup career from 1951 through 1954, she won all seven of her singles matches.

Connolly's achievements made her the darling of the media and one of the most popular personalities in the U.S. She was named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for three straight years from 1951 through 1953. However, Connolly recognized the downside of her tennis career, saying, “I have always believed greatness on a tennis court was my destiny, a dark destiny, at times, where the court became my secret jungle and I, a lonely, fear-stricken hunter. I was a strange little girl armed with hate, fear, and a Golden Racket.”[1]

In June 1955, Connolly married Norman Brinker, a member of the 1952 Olympic equestrian team for the United States, who shared her love of horses. They had two daughters while she remained partially involved in tennis, acting as a correspondent for some U.S. and British newspapers at major U.S. tennis tournaments and as a coach for the British Wightman Cup team during its visits to the U.S. In Texas, where the couple lived, she and her husband established the "Maureen Connolly Brinker Foundation" to promote junior tennis.

In 1966 Connolly was diagnosed with stomach cancer, from which she died at age 34 in Dallas, Texas on June 21, 1969, and was interred in the Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery in Dallas.

According to John Olliff and Lance Tingay of The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Connolly was ranked in the world top ten from 1951 through 1954, reaching a career high of World No. 1 in those rankings from 1952 through 1954.[1] Connolly was included in the year-end top ten rankings issued by the United States Lawn Tennis Association from 1950 through 1953. She was the top ranked U.S. player from 1951 through 1953.[2]

Connolly was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1969 and the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 1987.

In 1956, Connolly was also inducted by the San Diego Hall of Champions into the Breitbard Hall of Fame honoring San Diego's finest athletes both on and off the playing surface.[2]

Brinker Elementary School in Plano, Texas is named in honor of Connolly. The school was dedicated on November 20, 1988.[3]

Connolly was portrayed by Glynnis O'Connor in Little Mo, a made-for-television biographical film which first aired on September 5, 1978 on NBC.[4]

Grand Slam record

  • Australian Open
    • Singles champion: 1953
    • Women's Doubles champion: 1953
    • Mixed Doubles runner-up: 1953
  • French Open
    • Singles champion (2): 1953, 1954
    • Women's Doubles champion: 1954
    • Women's Doubles runner-up: 1953
    • Mixed Doubles champion: 1954
    • Mixed Doubles runner-up: 1953
  • Wimbledon
    • Singles champion (3): 1952, 1953, 1954
    • Women's Doubles runners-up (2): 1952, 1953
  • U.S. Open
    • Singles champion (3): 1951, 1952, 1953
    • Women's Doubles runner-up: 1952

Grand Slam finals (18)

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Singles (9)

Wins (9)

Year Championship Opponent in final Score in final
1951 U.S. Championships Flag of the United States.svg Shirley Fry Irvin 6–3, 1–6, 6–4
1952 Wimbledon Flag of the United States.svg Louise Brough Clapp 6–4, 6–3
1952 U.S. Championships (2) Flag of the United States.svg Doris Hart 6–3, 7–5
1953 Australian Championships Flag of the United States.svg Julie Sampson Haywood 6–3, 6–2
1953 French Championships Flag of the United States.svg Doris Hart 6–2, 6–4
1953 Wimbledon (2) Flag of the United States.svg Doris Hart 8–6, 7–5
1953 U.S. Championships (3) Flag of the United States.svg Doris Hart 6–2, 6–4
1954 French Championships (2) Flag of France.svg Ginette Jucker Bucaille Grandguillot 6–4, 6–1
1954 Wimbledon (3) Flag of the United States.svg Louise Brough Clapp 6–2, 7–5

Women's doubles (6)

Wins (2)

Year Championship Partner Opponents in final Score in final
1953 Australian Championships United States Julie Sampson Haywood Australia Beryl Penrose Collier
Australia Mary Bevis Hawton
6–4, 6–2
1954 French Championships Australia Nell Hall Hopman France Maude Galtier
France Suzanne Schmitt
7–5, 4–6, 6–0

Runner-ups (4)

Year Championship Partner Opponents in final Score in final
1952 Wimbledon (1st) United States Louise Brough Clapp United States Doris Hart
United States Shirley Fry Irvin
8–6, 6–3
1952 U.S. Championships United States Louise Brough Clapp United States Doris Hart
United States Shirley Fry Irvin
10–8, 6–4
1953 French Championships United States Julie Sampson Haywood United States Doris Hart
United States Shirley Fry Irvin
6–4, 6–3
1953 Wimbledon (2nd) United States Julie Sampson Haywood United States Doris Hart
United States Shirley Fry Irvin
6–0, 6–0

Mixed doubles (3)

Win (1)

Year Championship Partner Opponents in final Score in final
1954 French Championships United States Lew Hoad Australia Jacqueline Patorni
Australia Rex Hartwig
6–4, 6–3

Runner-ups (2)

Year Championship Partner Opponents in final Score in final
1953 Australian Championships United States Hamilton Richardson United States Julie Sampson Haywood
Australia Rex Hartwig
6–4, 6–3
1953 French Championships Australia Mervyn Rose United States Doris Hart
United States Vic Seixas
4–6, 6–4, 6–0

References

  1. ^ Collins, Bud (2008). The Bud Collins History of Tennis: An Authoritative Encyclopedia and Record Book. New York, N.Y: New Chapter Press. pp. 695, 702. ISBN 0-942257-41-3.  
  2. ^ United States Tennis Association (1988). 1988 Official USTA Tennis Yearbook. Lynn, Massachusetts: H.O. Zimman, Inc.. p. 261.  
  3. ^ Brinker Elementary - About Us
  4. ^ Little Mo – All Movie Guide.

External links


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