Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman: Five Beginnings

  1. In the wild of 17th century America, two teenagers are whipped for a “filthy dalliance.” They ask to get married, become Hazel’s ancestors.  

2. In the ambition of 19th century America, Hazel’s grandparents travel west as part of a wagon train. They settle in Healdsburg, California, begin to work the land.

3. In the crazy of 20th century America: Hazel’s father starts a canning company that grows and grows until it becomes the Del Monte Corporation. Then business venture after business venture after business venture until he loses it all in the Great Depression.

4. In the gravel of front and backyard America, Hazel practiced volleys instead of ground strokes because the bounces were bad. That’s how she learned a man’s way of playing.  Come forward. Be aggressive.

5. In the Girls not allowed America as in girls not allowed on the asphalt court in Berkeley after 8:00 am, Hazel woke up at 6:00 am, grabbed an apple and ran for a mile to get an hour of practice on the court.  

More about Hazel Wightman: In 1909-1911, Hazel swept the single, doubles and mixed doubles titles at the US National Championships. She would win 16 titles at all despite almost never traveling to the other grand slams. To learn more about Hazel Wightman, the “Queen Mother of American Tennis” who founded the Wightman Cup, check out her page at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

For more on the Hazel Wightman stamp, which celebrates the two gold medals she won in the 1924 Olympics in Paris, check out The Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

Note: Much of this material comes from Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman: First Lady of Tennis, by Tom Carter.

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