The Road to Wimbledon.New York & London: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1946 Stock Code: 134406
Signed by the authorFirst edition, first printing, signed by the author on the front free endpaper. Uncommon signed, this is the first memoir by Alice Marble (1913-1990), ranked World No. 1 from 1936 to 1940. She became Wimbledon champion in 1939, winning not only the women's singles, but also the doubles and mixed doubles titles. Billie Jean King recalled: "Alice Marble was a picture of unrestrained athleticism... She is remembered as one of the greatest women to play the game because of her pioneering style in power tennis. I also admired her tremendously because she always helped others" (New York Times obituary). Marble did not pick up a racket until she was fifteen, when, having excelled at baseball, basketball, and athletics in high school, "her brother Dan gave her a tennis racket and said she needed to play a more 'ladylike' sport". Marble won five Grand Slams in all, and "Jack Kramer considered her most responsible for changing women's tennis to a more aggressive and athletic style of play" (ANB).
During the Second World War Marble played exhibition matches at military bases, where she met her husband, Joseph Crowley, an army intelligence officer. She later accepted an intelligence assignment herself, after he was shot down and killed in 1944. Concealing her mission by teaching at tennis clinics, she spied on her former lover, Hans Steinmetz, a Swiss investment banker hiding artwork stolen by the Nazis. She also briefly supplemented her income by working as a writer and editor for the Wonder Woman comic book. After the war, Marble worked as a tennis coach for high-ranking players such as Darlene Hard, Maureen Connolly, and Billie Jean King, as well as lecturing, designing sportswear for women, and writing articles for tennis magazines. She was an outspoken supporter of Althea Gibson, challenging the sport's segregation policies, and lobbying for Gibson's inclusion in the US Open. Marble's historic editorial for American Tennis Magazine, denouncing the US Lawn Tennis Association, resulted in Gibson being invited to play: "If tennis is a game for ladies and gentlemen, it's also time we acted a little more like gentlepeople and less like sanctimonious hypocrites. If Althea Gibson represents a challenge to the present crop of women players, it's only fair that they should meet that challenge on the courts."
Octavo. Original green cloth, titles to spine and front board in gilt, tennis racket motif to front board gilt. With dust jacket.
With 8 black and white plates.
Small faint splash to front cover, extremities a little rubbed, endpapers toned, contents clean. A very good copy in the price-clipped jacket, spine faded with a little loss to head, else bright, extremities somewhat worn, some small chips and nicks to extremities.
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