Pauline works all day at an LA Department Store, then leaps into the back seat of her mother’s car. Her mother negotiates LA traffic while Pauline changes into tennis clothes. Together they will scrimp 17 dollars to travel east. Swing music on the radio drowns out the war. The next year they take out a loan from Thrifty’s for 200 dollars. Pauline’s paid room and board at each tournament stop: Seabright, Easthampton, Long Island, Longwood, Forest Hills . . . . In between tournaments, she budgets 50 cents a day for food: “you watch breakfast go by and sleep for lunch and bat your eyelashes for dinner.” Sometimes she sleeps in the car with her legs out the window. The police want to know what’s going on. As she becomes more successful, she leaves mother behind. Now it’s one hand on the wheel at 90 mph and NoDoze pills and the music as loud as possible. She would go on to win 4 US Opens and Wimbledon. Would go on to say she might sign a contract to make money from tennis, so they banned her from competition.*
More on Pauline Betz: The information from this piece was taken from her autobiography, Wings on my Tennis Shoes. For more on her career as a tennis player, you can check out her page at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Pauline Betz Addie Tennis Center is named in her honor.
The featured photo is from Women’s Tennis Colorizations.
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