Jacobs with the Wightman Cup, Wimbledon 1934
|Full name||Helen Hull Jacobs|
|Country (sports)||United States|
|Born||August 6, 1908|
Globe, Arizona, U.S.
|Died||June 2, 1997 (aged 88)|
East Hampton, New York, U.S.
|Int. Tennis HoF||1962 (member page)|
|Highest ranking||No. 1 (1936, A. Wallis Myers)|
|Grand Slam Singles results|
|French Open||F (1930, 1934)|
|US Open||W (1932, 1933, 1934, 1935)|
|Grand Slam Doubles results|
|French Open||F (1934)|
|Wimbledon||F (1932, 1936, 1939)|
|US Open||W (1932, 1934, 1935)|
|Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results|
|US Open||W (1934)|
|Wightman Cup||(1927, 1929, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1939)|
Jacobs was born in Globe, Arizona, and was Jewish. Her parents, Roland (a mining executive, and then a newspaper advertising executive) and Eula Jacobs, moved the family to San Francisco in 1914. She was the most well-known Jewish female player of the interwar period.
Jacobs had a powerful serve and overhead smash and a sound backhand, but she never learned to hit a flat forehand, despite her friendship, and some coaching, from Bill Tilden. Like both her Wightman Cup coach Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman and her archrival Helen Wills Moody, she grew up in Berkeley, California, learned the game at the Berkeley Tennis Club, pursued her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and was inducted into the Cal Sports Hall of Fame.
Jacobs won five Grand Slam singles titles and was an eleven-time Grand Slam singles runner-up. Six of those losses were to Helen Wills Moody. Jacobs's only victory over Moody was in the final of the 1933 U.S. Championships. Moody retired from the match with a back injury while trailing 3–0 in the third set to a chorus of boos from the audience who believed that Moody quit the match merely to deny Jacobs the satisfaction of finishing out her victory. It was reported by many witnesses after the match that Moody still planned to play her doubles match later that afternoon but was advised against it. Years later, Moody confirmed her injury, saying, "My back is kind of funny. The vertebra between the fourth and fifth disk is thin. When the disk slips around, it's intolerable. It rained the whole week before that final match. I lay in bed, and that was bad because it stiffened worse. I just couldn't play any longer, but I didn't say anything because it would look like an excuse." Jacobs almost defeated Moody again when she had match point at 6–3, 3–6, 5–3 in the 1935 Wimbledon Championships singles final but a mishit on a short lob, which she decided to let bounce, cost her the point and four games later the match. In the 1938 Wimbledon final against Moody, Jacobs turned her ankle at 4–4 in the first set and hobbled around the court for the remainder of the match, with Moody winning the final eight games and the second set lasting a mere eight minutes. When asked after the match why she did not accept Hazel Wightman's on-court advice to quit the match after the injury, Jacobs said that continuing was the sporting thing to do so that Moody could enjoy the full taste of victory, an obvious allusion to Moody's retirement from the 1933 U.S. final. Moody said, "I was very sorry about Helen's ankle. But it couldn't be helped, could it? I thought there was nothing I could do but get it over as quickly as possible." In total, Jacobs lost 14 of the 15 career singles matches she played against Moody.
Jacobs won three Grand Slam women's doubles titles and one in mixed doubles. She was the runner-up at six Grand Slam women's doubles tournaments and one Grand Slam mixed doubles tournament. She won the singles and women's doubles titles at the Italian Championships in 1934.
According to A. Wallis Myers and John Olliff of The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Jacobs was ranked in the world top 10 from 1928 through 1939 (no rankings issued from 1940 through 1945), reaching a career high of World No. 1 in those rankings in 1936. With the exceptions of 1930 and 1938, Jacobs was included in the year-end top 10 rankings by the United States Tennis Association from 1927 through 1941. She was the top-ranked U.S. player from 1932 through 1935.
Jacobs was a member of the U.S. Wightman Cup team from 1927 through 1937 and again in 1939. Her lifetime record was 19–11.
In 1933, Jacobs became the first woman to break with tradition by wearing man-tailored shorts at Wimbledon.
While she was still playing tennis, Jacobs became a writer. Her first books were Modern Tennis (1933) and Improve Your Tennis (1936). She also wrote fictional works, such as Storm Against the Wind (1944). Her autobiography Beyond the Game appeared in 1936. In 1949, she published Gallery of Champions, a collection of biographies of female players, which she dedicated to Molla Mallory.
Honors and awards
Jacobs was named Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year in 1933. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1962. In 2015, she was inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame.
World War II and personal life
Jacobs served as a commander in the U.S. Navy intelligence during World War II, one of only five women to achieve that rank in the Navy.
Long known to have been lesbian, she was in a relationship from 1934 to 1943 with Henrietta Bingham, daughter of Louisville publisher and ambassador to England Robert Bingham. Her partner in later life was Virginia Gurnee. Jacobs died of heart failure in East Hampton, New York on June 2, 1997, where she had been living.
Grand Slam finals
Singles (5 titles, 11 runners-up)
|Loss||1928||U. S. National Championships||Grass||Helen Wills||2–6, 1–6|
|Loss||1929||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Helen Wills||1–6, 2–6|
|Loss||1930||French International Championships||Clay||Helen Wills Moody||2–6, 1–6|
|Loss||1932||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Helen Wills Moody||3–6, 1–6|
|Win||1932||U. S. National Championships||Grass||Carolin Babcock||6–2, 6–2|
|Win||1933||U. S. National Championships (2)||Grass||Helen Wills Moody||8–6, 3–6, 3–0 retired|
|Loss||1934||French International Championships||Clay||Margaret Scriven||5–7, 6–4, 1–6|
|Loss||1934||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Dorothy Round||2–6, 7–5, 3–6|
|Win||1934||U. S. National Championships (3)||Grass||Sarah Palfrey||6–1, 6–4|
|Loss||1935||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Helen Wills Moody||3–6, 6–3, 5–7|
|Win||1935||U. S. National Championships (4)||Grass||Sarah Palfrey Fabyan||6–2, 6–4|
|Win||1936||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Hilde Krahwinkel Sperling||6–2, 4–6, 7–5|
|Loss||1936||U. S. National Championships||Grass||Alice Marble||6–4, 3–6, 2–6|
|Loss||1938||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Helen Wills||4–6, 0–6|
|Loss||1939||U. S. National Championships||Grass||Alice Marble||0–6, 10–8, 4–6|
|Loss||1940||U. S. National Championships||Grass||Alice Marble||2–6, 3–6|
Women's doubles (3 titles, 6 runner-ups)
|Loss||1931||U. S. National Championships||Grass||Dorothy Round|| Betty Nuthall
Eileen Bennett Whittingstall
|Loss||1932||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Elizabeth Ryan|| Doris Metaxa
|Win||1932||U. S. National Championships||Grass||Sarah Palfrey|| Alice Marble
|Loss||1934||French International Championships||Clay||Sarah Palfrey|| Simonne Mathieu
|6–3, 4–6, 2–6|
|Win||1934||U. S. National Championships||Grass||Sarah Palfrey|| Carolin Babcock
|4–6, 6–3, 6–4|
|Win||1935||U. S. National Championships||Grass||Sarah Palfrey Fabyan|| Carolin Babcock
|Loss||1936||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Sarah Palfrey Fabyan|| Freda James
|Loss||1936||U. S. National Championships||Grass||Sarah Palfrey Fabyan|| Marjorie Gladman Van Ryn
|7–9, 6–2, 4–6|
|Loss||1939||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Billie Yorke|| Alice Marble
Sarah Palfrey Fabyan
Mixed doubles (1 title, 1 runner-up)
|Loss||1932||U. S. National Championships||Grass||Ellsworth Vines|| Sarah Palfrey
|Win||1934||U. S. National Championships||Grass||George Lott|| Elizabeth Ryan
|4–6, 13–11, 6–2|
Grand Slam singles tournament timeline
R = tournament restricted to French nationals and held under German occupation.
|Australian Championships||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||NH||0 / 0|
|French Championships||A||A||A||A||A||F||QF||QF||SF||F||SF||A||QF||A||A||NH||R||0 / 7|
|Wimbledon||A||A||A||3R||F||QF||SF||F||SF||F||F||W||QF||F||QF||NH||NH||1 / 12|
|U.S. Championships||2R||A||SF||F||SF||A||QF||W||W||W||W||F||SF||3R||F||F||SF||4 / 15|
|SR||0 / 1||0 / 0||0 / 1||0 / 2||0 / 2||0 / 2||0 / 3||1 / 3||1 / 3||1 / 3||1 / 3||1 / 2||0 / 3||0 / 2||0 / 2||0 / 1||0 / 1||5 / 34|
- Modern Tennis (1933)
- Improve Your Tennis (1936)
- Beyond the game: an autobiography (1936)
- "By your leave, sir" : the story of a WAVE (1943)
- Storm Against the Wind (1944)
- Laurel for Judy (1945)
- Adventure in Blue Jeans (1947)
- Gallery of Champions (1949)
- Center Court (1950)
- Proudly she serves! The realistic story of a tennis champion who becomes a Wave (1953)
- The young sportsman's guide to tennis (1961)
- Beginner's Guide to Winning Tennis (1961)
- Judy, Tennis Ace (1961)
- Better physical fitness for girls (1964)
- Courage to Conquer (1967)
- The Tennis Machine (1972)
- Famous modern American women athletes (1975)
- Performance timelines for all female tennis players who reached at least one Grand Slam final
- List of select Jewish tennis players
- Zuckerman, Bruce; Sclar, Ari F.; Ansell, Lisa (September 21, 2014). Beyond Stereotypes: American Jews and Sports. Purdue University Press. ISBN 9781557536990 – via Google Books.
- "The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on July 10, 1936 · Page 6". Newspapers.com.
- Jackson, Kenneth T. (September 21, 2002). The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives: Sports figures. C. Scribner's Sons. ISBN 9780684806655 – via Google Books.
- Obituary: Helen Jacobs
- "Helen Jacobs, Tennis Champion in the 1930s, Dies at 88". The New York Times. June 4, 1997.
- "Mrs. Wills Moody Achieves Her Ambition". Gloucester Citizen. British Newspaper Archive. 6 July 1935. p. 1.
- Collins, Bud (2008). The Bud Collins History of Tennis: An Authoritative Encyclopedia and Record Book. New York, N.Y: New Chapter Press. pp. 576, 695, 701–2. ISBN 978-0-942257-41-0.
- United States Tennis Association (1988). 1988 Official USTA Tennis Yearbook. Lynn, Massachusetts: H.O. Zimman, Inc. p. 260.
- "Jacobs, Helen Hull". WorldCat.
- Jim Buzinski (27 July 2015). "9 inducted into National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame". Outsports.
- Bingham, Emily (2015). Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham. New York, N.Y: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 223–266.
- Bingham, Emily (June 16, 2015). Irrepressible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham. Macmillan. ISBN 9780809094646 – via Google Books.
- Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Location 23378). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.