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Heather Nicholls

tennis player
Full name: Heather Mary Hope Nicholls
Alias: Mrs W.Brewer
Mrs A.A.Segal
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Bio [Extract from The Royal Gazette, Bermuda, 21 September 2007]

"One of the Island's (Bermuda's) greatest all-time tennis players and ambassadors is now among the front runners to be enshrined in Bermuda's Sports Hall of Fame during tomorrow night's induction ceremony at Fairmont Southampton Princess. Late Wimbledon and French Open semi-finalist Heather Nicholls Brewer Segal - who died last year (2006) at the age of 74 following a bout with cancer - tops a star studded list of 23 nominees all vying for the ten spots to go up for grabs at tomorrow night's gala black tie event.

During an awe-inspiring international tennis career, Segal reached the women's singles semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1953, 1955 and 1957 and was also a semi-finalist at the 1955 and 1958 French Open Championships, a phenomenal achievement unparalleled to date by a Bermudian. In all, Segal played a total of 80 matches at Wimbledon where she also appeared in the quarter-finals on a combined eight occasions in the women's singles, doubles and mixed doubles. For added measure, she also captured the Northern Ireland Tennis Championship and Spanish Championships in Barcelona in 1954, Swiss International Championship in Gstaad in 1956 as well as winning two major titles in Belgium in 1957 and two national titles in South Africa in 1957 and 1962.

In 1954 Segal soared to number 12 in the women's world tennis rankings and was also bestowed Bermuda 'Amateur Sportsman of the Year' honours the same year after a remarkable season competing on the international stage .

"No Bermudian has ever reached such incredible heights in the field of first-class international tennis and it is highly unlikely that any Bermudian will approach the standard of tennis achieved by Heather in the foreseeable future," commented former Premier and Hall of Fame director David Saul. After remarrying South African Davis Cup player Abe Segal in 1957, the Bermudian tennis legend moved to Spain and lived there until the time of her death."

Extract from a Wimbledon Tennis Blog, 21st September 2007;
"She's the only Bermudian tennis player ever to play at Wimbledon, she reached the semi-finals of the French Open twice and won a host of major tournaments across Europe.

But do you even know her name? Heather Segal is one of the true unsung heroes of Bermudian sport.

Only a handful of men or women in the island's rich sporting history can claim to have reached the same heights.

Yet, after three years of the Hall of Fame, only now is she gaining belated recognition after being short-listed for inclusion at Saturday night's event.
Had more been known about her achievements, Segal would undoubtedly have been among the first to be inaugurated.

But the fact that she lived for much of her life in South Africa and Spain meant she was out of the limelight in her homeland.

One man who does remember Segal, who left the island at the age of 22 - just as she was becoming a genuine tennis star, is Coral Beach pro Derek Singleton.

He has no doubts about her ability.

"I was privileged to play tennis on many occasions with Heather Segal. She was, quite simply, the best player, either male or female, that Bermuda has ever produced."

Her daughter Nancy Segal, who lives on the island and works at BELCO, said her mother was an elegant baseliner who loved the clay courts of the French Open, where she had her greatest success, reaching the last four in 1955 and 1958.

But Segal's heart belonged to Wimbledon - the Mecca of tennis, where she played more than 80 matches over 15 years, reaching the doubles and mixed doubles quarter-finals on five occasions. She also won tournaments in Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, South Africa and Italy, during a glittering career.

The fact that she played in the era of wooden rackets and black-and-white television and lived most of her career in South Africa, meant her achievements went somewhat unnoticed in her homeland.

"I think it's wonderful that she is being recognized now," said her daughter.
"She was in a different league. I think we should be very appreciative."
Ms Segal remembers watching her mother, who died last year, playing at major tournaments across Europe as a child.

"She loved Wimbledon, it's such a great atmosphere. There was a very close relationship between all the players and their families. They were friends as well as rivals."

Dr David Saul, one of the directors of the Hall of Fame, paid tribute to her achievements.

"No Bermudian has ever reached such incredible heights in the field of first-class, international tennis, and it is highly unlikely that any Bermudian will approach the standard of tennis achieved by Heather in the foreseeable future."
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