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Paula Heimann

tennis player

Alias: Baroness Paula Von Reznicek
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Bio 1929 German International champion, feminist writer, and often controversial figure in German tennis; Paula von Reznicek was the best known female of the Weimar Republic until overshadowed by Cilly Aussem.

Paula was the daughter of a wealthy Jewish banker Georg Friedrich Julius Max Heimann. He converted to Christianity in the 1880s, marrying the Catholic Valesca (Vally) Molinari.

From Breslau, she was ranked German #8 in 1923 as Fraulein Heimann. Married around 1925 to sportwriter Burghard Freiherr von Reznicek, she was known as Frau von Reznicek in the late 1920s and early 1930s. These were her best tennis years. Literary ambitions paired with tennis helped make her a household name. Paula wrote about women's emancipation, heralding the "new" liberated women of the liberal Weimar period before Adolf Hitler. She also wrote several romance novels and co-wrote books with von Reznicek. Her writings were a heady mixture of sport, women's lib, and the scandals of the rich and famous.
A natural storyteller, Paula was often the subject of gossip as well as a person who passed it along. An obituary from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called her "A sharp woman with a sharp tongue." Separating the personality from the tennis player was nearly impossible.

"Haven't you sometimes felt the sweet excitements of tender eroticism during or after athletic exertion?"-Paula, from her book Resurrection of the Lady.

Paula's tennis suffered from the general ban on German players in international events after World War I. It wasn't until 1926 that Germans could compete abroad, too late for Reznicke to benefit at the age of 31. Indeed, 1928 was the only year she competed at Wimbledon.

At the same time, a younger rival arrived in Cilly Aussem. Their rivalry became especially bitter. Aussem was destined to be a grand slam winner at Wimbledon and France in 1931. Early on, Reznicek was able to defeat Aussem. Cilly's mother made the ridiculous charge that Paula won by "hypnotising" Aussem. Mrs Aussem talked loudly about her suspicions and even wrote a letter to the German Tennis Federation. Paula heard it, confronted Mrs Aussem courtside at a tennis club, and after words were exchanged, she slapped or punched Cilly's mother in the face. In the parlance of the day, Paula "boxed her ears". This slap heard round the world of German tennis entertained tennis circles for months in 1928. Cilly soon eclipsed Reznicek as German #1, and the famous incident gradually faded from view.

2nd husband Hans Stuck was a famous sportsman, best known for race car driving. Her tennis in decline, Paula devoted more time to writing and her husband's career. During much of the 1930s, Paula concocted gimmicks and promotional stunts to keep Hans in the news. Hans also knew Adolf Hitler. According sorces, "The fact that she had a Jewish grandfather caused Stuck some problems with the rise of the Nazis, but his relationship with Hitler saved him from serious trouble." This connection may well have saved Paula's life. In 1939, he met Christa Thielmann, at that point engaged to Paula's youngest brother. Stuck and Paula divorced in 1948, and he married Christa that year.

Paula moved to Munich in 1945 and continued to write. In 1949 she completed a book about tennis legend Gottfried von Cramm. Paula died in Munich in 1976. Despite her two marriages, she was quite content to never have children.

German Top Ten Rankings

1923: #8
1924: #8
1925: [missing]
1926: #5
1927: [missing]
1928: #4
1929: #2 (highest rank. German Champion)
1930: [missing]
1931: [missing]
1932: #3
1933: #4
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