WNEW hires tennis champ
to comment on Football
ca. 1940s, New York, New York, USA — (original caption) Alice Marble, top ranking woman tennis player, who has just signed a contract with WNEW, New York radio station, for a series of weekend football forecasts and comment on college games during the fall season. She will be heard each Friday and Saturday at 7:45 PM. Heretofore, her radio experience has been limited to singing and guest appearances. — Image by Â© Underwood & Underwood/CORBIS
Photo: Underwood & Underwood Corbis
In 1940, tennis champion Alice Marble . . .was hired by New York radio station WNEW as a football reporter. She gave two 15-minute broadcasts each week. On her first broadcast, she listed teams she thought would win on the following day, and of 45 games, picked the winners of 31; three other games were ties. Her knowledge of the game, unusual for a woman at that time, rapidly won her a devoted audience.
In 1936, Marble won the national singles championship and the mixed doubles championship. In 1938 she won the Wimbledon women’s doubles, repeating that win in 1939, as well as capturing that year’s singles title. In fact, 1939 would prove a phenomenal year for Marble as she became the first woman ever to win the British and U.S. women’s singles, doubles, and mixed doubles championships all in the same year. She won the Wimbledon mixed doubles title from 1937 to 1939, and in 1939 and 1940 the Associated Press named her Female Athlete of the Year. In Courting Danger, written when she was 77, Marble looked back on her tennis career: “When you’ve lived as long as I have, the sheer joy of having played the game comes to matter more than the victories, the records, the memories.”
Throughout her life, Marble remained determined to achieve her goals, fighting social prejudices along the way. Later in her life she was active in encouraging tennis officials as well as the public to accept the presence of African American and homosexual players in the game. She also continued to encourage women to become physically fit and participate in sports. “When the day comes that a woman who is athletic will no longer be regarded as the unusual type, when it will seem as natural for women as it now seems for men to be keenly interested in athletics, we’ll start training girls to be active athletes,” she commented to Himber. “We’ll not discourage them, as we do today, from taking part in tomboy play when they’re six, and ten, and twelve.” Marble died in Palm Springs, California on December 13, 1990. (photos added by WNEW1130 editors)
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Women’s Pioneer Alice Marble Dies : Tennis: As a national champion in the ’30s, she played a serve-and-volley game.
Los Angeles Times Decdember 14, 1990
Marble was admitted to the hospital last Saturday. The cause of death was not immediately available.
Marble, who grew up in San Francisco, won the U.S. national women’s singles championship in 1936, 1938, 1939 and 1940 and the Wimbledon singles championship in 1939, when she was voted as the outstanding woman athlete in the United States in an Associated Press poll.
Marble’s adoption of the serve-and-volley to her aggressive attacking game was considered by some to be an unseemly mistake. Tennis commentators of the time made sneering reference to her “playing like a man.”
The criticism never bothered Marble, though, and it was her example that spawned a new style of tennis for women, moving the sport away from the genteel and toward the athletic.