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Margaret Varner

tennis player

Alias: Margaret Varner Bloss
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Bio She is a retired American athlete and professor of physical education from El Paso, Texas who excelled in three distinctly different racket sports: badminton, squash, and tennis. She made 5 consecutive appearances in the finals of the All England Women’s Singles to contest fellow compatriot, Judy Devlin, for the title. In total, Varner won two consecutive All England titles in Women’s Singles and an All England title in Women’s Doubles. She also won four titles in Women’s Doubles at the World Invitation Championships. Varner captained the gold medal winning team at the 1957 Uber Cup and helped the USA successfully defend their title at the following 1960 edition. Varner was the only American to have ever represented the USA in international competition for three racket sports – badminton (Uber Cup), tennis (Wightman Cup) and squash (Wolfe-Noel Cup). She was inducted in the Hall of Fame for all three sports and into the International Badminton Federation Hall of Fame in 1999.

Varner's earliest racket sport triumphs came in tennis with victories in National Junior Girls Doubles (1944 and 1945) and in numerous Texas state and regional events. She eventually played the circuit of national and international tournaments which, in this amateur-only era, were generally held in the six-month span alternating with that of most badminton and squash tournaments.

Although she never reached the relative heights in tennis that she did in badminton and squash, she was a strong enough player to reach the final of Wimbledon Women's Doubles in 1958, losing to Hall-of-Famers Althea Gibson and Maria Bueno. Her Wimbledon partner that year was the redoubtable Margaret Osborne duPont with whom she formed a friendship that became a life partnership following duPont's divorce. In 1961 and 1962 the duPont-Varner partnership won doubles matches for U.S. Wightman Cup teams that defeated Great Britain.

She is a three-sport champion, led a remarkable career as a player, educator and international goodwill ambassador. Varner started winning tournaments at an early age; she was a five-time Texas State champion and earned three national junior titles. An outstanding student, Varner attended the University of Southern California and received her B.A. and M.A. degrees from Texas Women’s University in 1950.

Varner could win with any racket, becoming the first person to represent the U.S. in the world competition in three racket sports: tennis, squash and badminton. At the same time she pursued a 20-year college teaching career, retiring to join her former doubles partner, Margaret duPont, in raising thoroughbred racehorses including such aptly-named winners as ‘Super Set’ and ‘Tie-Breaker.’

Career Highlights

U.S. Girls’ 18 Doubles Champion 1944, 1945
U.S. Girls’ 18 Hard Court Doubles Champion 1945
Southwestern Tennis Association Singles Champion 1944-1945; Doubles 1944
Wimbledon Doubles Finalist (with Margaret duPont) 1958
U.S. Wightman Cup Team Member 1961-1962 (2-0 record); Team Captain 1965
Squash Racquets champion: U.S. Singles 1960-1963; Mixed Doubles 1961; U.S. Wolfe-Noel Team Member 1959, 1963; Philadelphia Howe Cup Team Member 1959-1963
Badminton champion: U.S. Singles 1956; Mixed Doubles 1960; All-England (World) Singles 1955-1956, Doubles 1958; World Invitational Doubles 1956-1958, 1960; U.S. Uber Cup Team Member 1957, 1960; Captain 1957, 1969
Author of Badminton, Co-author of Table Tennis, Squash Racquets
Faculty member, Physical Education, at Louisiana State University, Mt. Holyoke College, Boston University, University of Delaware, University of Texas at El Paso
Inducted into the Texas Tennis Association Hall of Fame 1985; Texas Women’s University Hall of Fame 1994; SWTA Hall of Fame 1995
Ranked as a Top 20 Thoroughbred Racehorse Owner by Thoroughbred Times 1996

She has now retired and lives in El Paso, Texas.

INDIVIDUAL AWARDS (in order by year)

1965 – USA Badminton Walk of Fame

1985 – Texas Tennis Museum & Hall of Fame

1994 – Texas Women’s University Hall of Fame

1995 – USTA Southwest Tennis Hall of Fame

1996 – The Intercollegiate Tennis Association Hall of Fame

1999 – IBF Hall of Fame

2000 – United States Squash Hall of Fame
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