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Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman

tennis player
Full name: Hazel Virginia Hotchkiss
Alias: Mrs G.W.Wightman
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Bio The vivacious Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, a most remarkable woman, won four U.S. Championships in singles, six in doubles, and six more in mixed doubles. She dominated American women's tennis before World War I, and won 45 U.S. titles during her life.

She was a prolific winner on her own, an astute analyst of the game, and a cunning match player. She also demonstrated a strong altruistic streak, advising leading players throughout her lifetime, and creating the Wightman Cup as an annual team competition for British and American women. Among those she tutored were luminaries Helen Wills, Helen Jacobs and Sarah Palfrey Cooke.

Wightman dominated American women's tennis before World War I and had an unparalleled reputation for sportsmanship. Wightman won a lifetime total of 45 U.S. titles, the last at age 68. She won 16 titles overall at the U.S. Championships, four of them in singles (1909–11, 1919). Nine of her titles at the U.S. Championships came in 1909–11, when she swept the singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles competitions three consecutive years.

Wightman is known as the "Queen Mother of American Tennis" or "Lady Tennis" for her lifelong participation in and promotion of women's tennis and because she was instrumental in organizing the Ladies International Tennis Challenge between British and American women's teams, better known as the Wightman Cup. The Cup was first held in 1923 and continued through 1989. She played five years on the American team and was the captain of the American team from inception of the competition through 1948. The Cup was composed of five singles and two doubles matches. The cup itself was donated in 1923 by Wightman in honor of her husband. The first contest, at Forest Hills, New York on August 11 and 13, 1923, was won by the United States.

Born during the early days of American tennis, Wightman was a frail and awkward child. Her doctor recommended that she take up a sport to strengthen herself. Her brother suggested tennis as it was considered a "genteel" sport. Wightman learned to play at the nearby courts of the University of California, Berkeley where she graduated in 1911. Her rivalry with fellow Californian, May Sutton, shaped a new women's game, with Wightman attacking the net to counter Sutton's dominating forehand.

Wightman devoted herself to teaching young people, opening her home near Boston's Longwood Cricket Club to aspiring champions. In recognition of Wightman's contributions to tennis, the USTA Service Bowl was donated in her honor. In 1973 Wightman was appointed as an honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Wightman was born in Healdsburg, California. In 1912, at the age of 25, she married George W. Wightman. Her father-in-law, George Henry Wightman, was a leader in the steel industry, as an associate of Andrew Carnegie, and one of the country's foremost pioneers of amateur tennis.

Wightman was the mother of five children. She died at her home in the village of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, on March 5, 1974.

She was inducted to Tennis Hall of Fame in 1957.
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