Kay Stammers, Alice Marble, and JFK

Kay designed her own dresses. Four inches above the knee. Is that why JFK dated her? She thought he was “spoilt by women. I think he could snap his fingers and they’d come running.” A Wimbledon finalist with a big lefty forehand in 1939, Kay was the second best player in the world till the war snapped its fingers and everyone came running. Kay drove an ambulance, played exhibition matches for the Red Cross. It seemed everyone needed blood. She married a man who was in the Welsh Guards. Women who married soldiers never knew where they were. Kay lost to Alice Marble in that Wimbledon final before the empire’s grass grew quiet as graves. Alice married a pilot who was killed over Germany. Alice wrote she was a spy against the Nazis. Once she was shot in the back. Alice’s shorts were 6 or 7 inches above the knee. They kept climbing and climbing like airplanes in the sky to smash overheads no one returned. Kay could do nothing but watch: 6-2, 6-0. At the previous year’s Wimbledon Ball, JFK’s father whispered to Alice: “My girl, if you’re going to win this thing, you’d better do it soon. There’s going to be a war that will make all of us forget about tennis.”* Soon a torpedo hit Kennedy’s boat. He swam for miles and miles. Miles and miles before sleep.

*Note: I had finished a draft of this piece when I came across this quote while reading Paul Fein’s book of tennis quotes from tennis history: You Can Quote Me on That. The quote fit perfectly into the piece, so I added it.

Artist Bio: My name is Giada Ilenia Pinna, aka Ely in art. I am a 27 year old woman. I live in Sardinia, Italy. I love art and writing. I started drawing and painting as a child and I haven’t stopped since. I love drawing fantasy characters, comics, manga, portraying people, painting landscapes, animals, flowers and above all drawing with digital and acrylic techniques. I am a very sensitive woman, I like to capture all the beauty of life from small daily gestures. My Instagram account: My blog:

For free posts every Thursday in your email featuring original art from around the world and creative new perspectives and prose, follow Tennis Players as Works of Art below:

Happy to announce that this blog has been named one of Feedspot’s top tennis blogs, websites & influencers of 2023.

13 replies on “Kay Stammers, Alice Marble, and JFK”

I have enjoyed many of your stories but found this one particularly interesting as I play tennis once or twice per week on the Alice Marble tennis courts located on the top of Russian Hill which have an incredible view of the entire San Francisco Bay from Golden Gate Bridge to Oakland. Keep the stories coming!

Thanks David, I am very familiar with the exploits of Alice Marble but knew very and I mean very little about Kay Stammers. Great work, I enjoy your Insights to our great sport!!

Leave a Reply