Maureen Connolly

Maureen Connolly

American tennis player
Date of Birth: 17.09.1934
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Maureen Connolly
  2. Early Life and Rise to Success
  3. Grand Slam Success and Accolades
  4. Later Career and Personal Life
  5. Legacy

Biography of Maureen Connolly

Maureen Connolly was an American tennis player and the winner of the Grand Slam in 1953 in the women's singles category. She was a twelve-time winner of Grand Slam tournaments in singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles.

Early Life and Rise to Success

Connolly began playing tennis at the age of ten and at the age of 14, she became the youngest ever winner of the US junior championship. By the age of 19, she was ranked 19th in the US women's tennis rankings. In her first year competing in adult tournaments in 1950, she was ranked tenth. The following year, she became the youngest player to represent the US team in the Wightman Cup, an annual team match between the United States and Great Britain, and the youngest winner of the tournament. In 1951, she won her first Grand Slam tournament, the National (later known as the US Open) championship, where she was seeded fourth. She was named "Sportswoman of the Year" by the Associated Press that year.

Grand Slam Success and Accolades

On July 5, 1952, at the age of 17, Connolly became the youngest winner of the Wimbledon tournament since 1905. She also won the US championship for the second consecutive year and was named "Sportswoman of the Year" by the Associated Press for the second time in a row. In 1953, Connolly began working with the legendary Australian coach Harry Hopman and partnered with his top male students, Hugh Lough and Ken Rosewall, in several tournaments. She became the first and youngest player in history to complete a calendar-year Grand Slam by winning the Australian championship, the French championship, Wimbledon, and the US championship. She only dropped one set in all four tournaments. Her final match at Wimbledon against Doris Hart (8–6, 7–5) is considered one of the best in the tournament's history. She also won the international tournament in Italy in women's doubles with Julie Sampson. The Associated Press named her "Sportswoman of the Year" for the third consecutive time.

Later Career and Personal Life

In 1954, Connolly did not defend her title at the Australian championship. However, she won the French championship and Wimbledon again, achieving a clean sweep in France in all three categories: singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles. She also won the singles and doubles titles at the US championship on clay courts. Unfortunately, this tournament would be her last due to a tragic accident. On July 20, 1954, while horseback riding, she was struck by a truck and suffered severe leg injuries. She was unable to compete in tournaments afterward and decided to retire from professional tennis. After recovering, she pursued a career as a coach and journalist.


In just four years, Connolly won nine consecutive Grand Slam singles titles. Only one other tennis player in history, Helen Wills Moody, has a longer winning streak in Grand Slam tournaments (15), but it took her ten years to achieve that feat from 1924 to 1933. Connolly earned the nickname "Little Mo" for her powerful and precise shots, comparable to the battleship Missouri. She was originally left-handed, but her coach Eleanor Tennant taught her to play right-handed, and her forehand became her main weapon. She wrote an autobiography titled "Forehand Drive."

Connolly was known for her powerful and accurate shots from the baseline and rarely approached the net, tactically outplaying her opponents. She was renowned for her attacking prowess and unwavering determination to win. Maureen Connolly was raised by her mother, Jessamine, and stepfather, Ogaat Berthe. Her father left the family when she was a baby and did not reconnect with her until she achieved fame. Her mother and stepfather were musicians and hoped that Connolly would pursue a career in music.

Connolly had a passion for horses and horseback riding, which led to her meeting her future husband, Norman Brinker, a member of the US Olympic equestrian team. They announced their engagement on February 22, 1955, simultaneously with Connolly's retirement announcement. After leaving the tennis court, Connolly dedicated her time to promoting tennis and coaching. She also wrote a sports column for the "San Diego Union" and contributed tournament reports to other American and English newspapers. In Dallas, where the Brinkers settled, she founded the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation, which supported young tennis players. She had two children with Brinker. In 1966, Connolly was diagnosed with cancer, and at the age of 34, she passed away on June 21, 1969.

Before her death, Maureen Connolly was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. The Continental Cup Maureen Connolly-Brinker, a tournament for junior female tennis players, is named in her honor.