Molla Bjurstedt Mallory
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Molla Mallory
Molla Bjurstedt 1909.jpg
Molla Bjurstedt Mallory in 1909
Full name Molla Bjurstedt Mallory
Country (sports)  Norway
 United States
Born (1884-03-06)March 6, 1884
Mosvik, Norway
Died November 22, 1959(1959-11-22) (aged 75)
Stockholm, Sweden
Plays Right-handed
Int. Tennis HoF 1958 (member page)
Highest ranking No. 1 (US Ranking)
Grand Slam Singles results
French Open 2R (1928)
Wimbledon F (1922)
US Open W (1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1926)
Grand Slam Doubles results
US Open W (1916, 1917)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
US Open W (1917, 1922, 1923)

Anna Margrethe "Molla" Bjurstedt Mallory (née Bjurstedt; March 6, 1884[1] - November 22, 1959) was a Norwegian tennis player, naturalized American. She won a record eight singles titles at the U.S. Championships.

Tennis career

Although she had won a bronze medal in singles for Norway at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm,[2] and was the many-time champion of her homeland, Mallory was relatively unknown when she arrived in New York City to begin work as a masseuse in 1915. She entered the U.S. Indoor Championships that year unheralded and beat three-time defending champion Marie Wagner 6-4, 6-4, which was the first of her five singles titles at that tournament.[1] She also won the singles title in Cincinnati in 1915.

Mallory had less in the way of stroke equipment than most tennis champions. But the sturdy, Norwegian-born woman, the daughter of an army officer, was a fierce competitor, running with limitless endurance.[1]Robert (Bob) Kelleher, a former president of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) and a ball boy during Mallory's era, once said, "She looked and acted tough when she was on the court hitting tennis balls. She walked around in a manner that said you'd better look out or she'd deck you. She was an indomitable scrambler and runner. She was a fighter."[3]

She was a player of the old school. She held that a woman could not sustain a volleying attack in a long match.[1] "I do not know a single girl who can play the net game."[3] Therefore, she relied on her baseline game, consisting of strong forehand attacks and a ceaseless defense that wore down her opponents. She took the ball on the rise and drove it from corner to corner to keep her opponent on the constant run. Her quick returns made her passing shots extremely effective.[1] She once said, "I find that the girls generally do not hit the ball as hard as they should. I believe in always hitting the ball with all my might, but there seems to be a disposition to 'just get it over' in many girls whom I have played. I do not call this tennis."[3]

Her second round match with Suzanne Lenglen at the 1921 U.S. National Championships brought Mallory her greatest celebrity.[1] Before the match, Bill Tilden advised Mallory to "hit the cover off the ball." Once the match began, Mallory "attacked with a vengeance" and was ahead 2-0 (40-0) when Lenglen began to cough. Mallory won the first set 6-2 and was up 40-0 on Lenglen's serve in the first game of the second set when Lenglen began to weep and walked to the umpire's stand and informed the official that she was ill and could not continue. After the match, the USTA accused Lenglen of feigning illness. The French Tennis Federation (FTF) exonerated Lenglen and accepted her testimony (and a doctor's) that she had been ill. However, Albert de Joannis, vice president of the FTF who accompanied Lenglen during her trip to the United States, quit his post in protest of the FTF's conclusion. He claimed that Lenglen was "perfectly fit" during the match and that, "She was defeated by a player who on that date showed a better brand of tennis."[4]

Lenglen avenged the loss by defeating Mallory 6-2, 6-0 in 26 minutes in the 1922 Wimbledon final,[5] the shortest final in a Grand Slam tournament on record.[6] Lenglen reportedly said to Mallory after the match, "Now, Mrs. Mallory, I have proved to you today what I could have done to you in New York last year," to which Mallory replied, "Mlle. Lenglen, you have done to me today what I did to you in New York last year; you have beaten me."[7] However, Kathleen McKane Godfree has said that Lenglen denied this exchange.[] Lenglen claimed that she merely said "thank you" to Mallory and coughed very suggestively behind an uplifted hand. This was to remind Mallory that she - Lenglen - had indeed had whooping cough in their New York match the previous year. The two played for the last time that summer in Nice, France with Lenglen winning 6-0, 6-0. This completed the head-to-head rivalry between the players, with Lenglen winning their first match at the 1921 World Hard Court Championships 6-3, 6-2, after which Mallory said about Lenglen, "She is just the steadiest player that ever was. She just sent back at me whatever I sent at her and waited for me to make a fault. And her returns often enough were harder than the shots I sent up to her."[8]

Mallory won the singles title at the U.S. Championships a record eight times in fifteen attempts, with the last of her titles occurring at age 42 in 1926. Her worst finish there was a quarterfinal loss in 1927 at age 43. In 1926, Mallory hit one of the heights of her career when she came back from 0-4 in the third set of the final against Elizabeth Ryan, saving a match point in winning her eighth championship.[1] Her farewell to the U.S. Championships was as a 45-year-old semifinalist in 1929, losing to Helen Wills Moody 6-0, 6-0 after having defeated the first foreign seeded player Betty Nuthall in the quarterfinal.[9][1] Mallory is the only woman other than Chris Evert to have won the U.S. Championships four consecutive times.

She died on November 22, 1959, aged 75, in Stockholm, Sweden.


According to A. Wallis Myers of The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Mallory was ranked in the world top ten from 1921 (when the rankings for women began) through 1927, reaching a career high of World No. 2 in those rankings in 1921 and 1922.[10] She was ranked in the U.S. top ten 13 consecutive years from 1915 through 1928 (no rankings were issued in 1917) and was top ranked from 1915 through 1922 and in 1926.[11]

Mallory was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1958.

In 1916, she co-authored a book, Tennis for Women with Samuel Crowther.[12]

Molla Bjurstedt at the 1915 Women's National Indoor Tennis Tournament at the Seventh Regiment Armory, New York City.

Grand Slam finals

Singles: 11 (8 titles, 3 runners-up)

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Winner 1915 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman 4-6, 6-2, 6-0
Winner 1916 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Louise Hammond Raymond 6-0, 6-1
Winner 1917 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Marion Vanderhoef 4-6, 6-0, 6-2
Winner 1918 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Eleanor Goss 6-4, 6-3
Winner 1920 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Marion Zinderstein 6-3, 6-1
Winner 1921 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Mary Browne 4-6, 6-4, 6-2
Runner-up 1922 Wimbledon Grass France Suzanne Lenglen 2-6, 0-6
Winner 1922 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Helen Wills 6-3, 6-1
Runner-up 1923 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Helen Wills 2-6, 1-6
Runner-up 1924 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Helen Wills 1-6, 3-6
Winner 1926 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Elizabeth Ryan 4-6, 6-4, 9-7

Doubles: 4 (2 titles, 2 runners-up)

Mixed doubles: 8 (3 titles, 5 runners-up)

Grand Slam singles tournament timeline

(W) Won; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (A) absent; (NH) not held. SR=strike rate (events won/competed)
Tournament 1909 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 Career SR Career
Australian Championships NH NH NH NH NH NH NH NH NH NH NH NH NH A A A A A A A A 0 / 0 0-0
French Championships1 R R R A A A NH NH NH NH NH A A A A NH A A A 2R A 0 / 2 1-1
Wimbledon 2R A A A A A NH NH NH NH A SF QF F QF 2R A SF 3R 1R 3R 0 / 10 23-14
U.S. Championships A A A A A A W W W W SF W W W F F SF W QF SF SF 8 / 15 65-7
SR 0 / 1 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 1 / 1 1 / 1 1 / 1 1 / 1 0 / 1 1 / 2 1 / 3 1 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 1 1 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 3 0 / 2 8 / 27 89-22

R = tournament restricted to French nationals.
SR = the ratio of the number of Grand Slam singles tournaments won to the number of those tournaments played.

1Through 1923, the French Championships were open only to French nationals. The World Hard Court Championships (WHCC), actually played on clay in Paris or Brussels, began in 1912 and were open to all nationalities. The results from that tournament are shown here from 1912 through 1914 and from 1920 through 1923. The Olympics replaced the WHCC in 1924, as the Olympics were held in Paris. Beginning in 1925, the French Championships were open to all nationalities, with the results shown here beginning with that year.

Personal life

On September 18, 1920, at the age of 36, she married stock broker Franklin Mallory.[13]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Collins, Bud (2010). The Bud Collins History of Tennis: An Authoritative Encyclopedia and Record Book. New York, N.Y: New Chapter Press. pp. 604, 605. ISBN 978-0942257700. 
  2. ^ "Molla Mallory Olympic Results". Retrieved . 
  3. ^ a b c Billie Jean King with Cynthia Starr (1988). We Have Come a Long Way: The Story of Women's Tennis. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 29. ISBN 0-07-034625-9. 
  4. ^ Billie Jean King with Cynthia Starr (1988). We Have Come a Long Way: The Story of Women's Tennis. New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 29-31. ISBN 0-07-034625-9. 
  5. ^ "Mlle. Lenglen Wins Over Mrs. Mallory", New York Times, July 9, 1922, page 1
  6. ^ "Graf Takes Shortest Line: Straight Sets". SunSentinel. June 5, 1988. 
  7. ^ Billie Jean King with Cynthia Starr (1988). We Have Come a Long Way: The Story of Women's Tennis. New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 31. ISBN 0-07-034625-9. 
  8. ^ "Mlle. Lenglen wins from Mrs. Mallory" (pdf). The New York Times. June 6, 1921. pp. 1, 5. 
  9. ^ "Mrs. Mallory jars net race". Spokane Daily Chronicle. AP. August 23, 1929. p. 24 – via Google News Archive. 
  10. ^ Collins, Bud (2008). The Bud Collins History of Tennis: An Authoritative Encyclopedia and Record Book. New York, N.Y: New Chapter Press. pp. 695, 701. ISBN 0-942257-41-3. 
  11. ^ United States Tennis Association (1988). 1988 Official USTA Tennis Yearbook. Lynn, Massachusetts: H.O. Zimman, Inc. p. 260. 
  12. ^ Tennis for Women. (Illustrated from photographs), Molla Bjurstedt and Samuel Crowther, London: Curtis Brown, 1916
  13. ^ "Molla Mallory history". History Orb. Retrieved 2015. 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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