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Sports Then and Now



Queens of the Court: Molla Mallory, Mould Breaker and Mould Maker 37

Posted on October 26, 2009 by Marianne Bevis
Molla Mallory won eight straight U.S. women's singles titles.

Molla Mallory won the U.S. Nationals women's singles title eight times, including four straight years from 1915-1918.

This is the first of a regular series of articles featuring some of the “Queens of the Court” in the history of women’s tennis.

When Anna Margarethe Bjurstedt was born in Oslo in March 1884, few could anticipate the mark she would make both on tennis and on women’s participation in sport.

This was the latter stages of the 19th century, when the modern rules of lawn tennis were still just 10 years old.

It was a world where Otto von Bismarck was Chancellor of Germany and Victoria was Queen of the British Empire.

There was no such thing as Greenwich Mean Time (that was set in October), and New York harbor was yet to receive the Statue of Liberty from France (on the 4th July that same year).

Van Gogh had not painted his “Sunflowers”, and Tchaikovsky had yet to write his “Sleeping Beauty.”

But this daughter of a Norwegian army officer was soon to introduce a new attitude and new approach to tennis.

In doing so, she won a record eight U.S. women’s singles titles and became the only woman—along with Chris Evert—to hold four of them consecutively. And her win in 1926, at the age of 42, established her as the oldest singles Grand Slam champion in history.

When Bjurstedt— Molla Mallory, as she was to become in 1919—first arrived in the United States in 1915, she had already won an Olympic bronze medal, but she was still a complete unknown. That was until she beat three-time defending champion Marie Wagner in straight sets to take the first of five singles titles at the national indoor championships.

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