Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



Who’s No. 1? 16 Women in Tennis Who Held the Top Spot Longest 22

Posted on February 27, 2011 by JA Allen

Two women who dominated on tour: Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.

Points given in a WTA sponsored tennis tournament are used to calculate a players ranking and who ultimately is the No. 1 player on the women’s tour.

Points gained are totaled for one year. Then as the event rolls around again on the calendar, the points earned last year fall off and new points won replace them.

Various tournaments have different point values with the slams offering the most points. For example, the winner of a major receives 2000 ranking points.

The further a player advances in the tournament, the more points she will earn.

Ultimately for the women on tour, only the player’s best 17 tournaments count toward total ranking points. That means a player cannot simply add to her ranking total by entering every tournament.

Historically, for the women’s tour, ranking did not even appear as a statistic until 1921.

Back then rankings were subjective, based on human observation, often a professional panel. Certainly there was no universal system. Calculation of rankings were not point-based until 1975.

Despite the inadequacies of past record-keeping, evidence exists that indicate a number of very talented female players held the No. 1 ranking and dominated the women’s game prior to 1975.

We will use prior subjective rankings and convert those records to an appropriate number of weeks in order to rank the dominance of the top 16 female tennis players since 1921.

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Queens of the Court: Suzanne Lenglen, An Original Diva 14

Posted on October 30, 2009 by Claudia Celestial Girl
Suzanne Lenglen paved the way for the modern "Divas".

Suzanne Lenglen won 12 Grand Slam titles.

She was called ‘La Divine.’  Some say in the 1920s Suzanne Lenglen was a bigger name in sports than that of Babe Ruth.

Between 1919 and 1926, at a time when three and not four tennis majors were played, she won twelve Grand Slam titles, on three different surfaces, and an Olympic Gold medal (Antwerp). Notably in seven of 81 singles titles she did not lose a game!

She was dominant in a way that only a handful of male stars have been since the open era of tennis.  More than that, she imposed her personality on the sport, and the entertainment world of the day.  We recognize such a personality in contemporary terms, in modern English, we might call her a diva. Read the rest of this entry →

Queens of the Court: Helen Wills Moody, Shades of Garbo 8

Posted on October 28, 2009 by Marianne Bevis

Helen Wills Moody

Helen Wills Moody won 19 Grand Slam singles titles during her career.

The relatively unknown Molla Mallory holds the record for the most U.S. Open singles titles—eight. But it was the remarkable Helen Wills Moody who, at the age of just 17, relieved Mallory of her U.S. crown in 1923, and went on to hold the record of 19 singles Grand Slam titles for a third of a century.

This is the second in a series celebrating some of the most inspiring and influential women to have played tennis.

All the signs were that Helen Wills would make a success of her life.

She graduated from one of California’s top schools and won an academic scholarship to study fine arts at the University of California. She went on to be honored as a Phi Beta Kappa, one of the most prestigious liberal arts and sciences awards in the United States.

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Helen Wills Moody 3

Posted on August 23, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Helen Wills Moody

Helen Wills Moody

Few women’s tennis players have enjoyed greater success in Grand Slam championships than this week’s Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Week.

Between 1923 and 1938, Helen Wills Moody was victorious in 19 of the 24 major tournaments in which she participated. Except for two defaults due to an appendectomy in 1926, she reached the finals of every Grand Slam tournament in which she participated.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rocky Colavito: Super Slugger
      March 30, 2020 | 7:24 pm
      Rocky Colavito

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was just the fifth player in Major League Baseball history to have 11 straight seasons with 20 or more home runs, yet could not sustain that greatness long enough to earn a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      In some sense, the legend of Rocco “Rocky” Colavito Jr. began long before he ever started pounding home runs at the major league level.

      Born and raised as a New York Yankees fan in The Bronx, Colavito was playing semipro baseball before he was a teenager and dropped out of high school at 16 after his sophomore year to pursue a professional career. The major league rule at the time said a player could not sign with a pro team until his high school class graduated, but after sitting out for one year, Colavito was allowed to sign at age 17.

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