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1955: American tennis star 'Little Mo' to quit
One of America's greatest tennis players has announced she is retiring from the sport after a horse-riding accident.

Maureen "Little Mo" Connolly, 19, has dominated women's tennis worldwide since 1951.

She has won the women's title at Wimbledon for the past three consecutive years, in 1952, 1953 and 1954. At 16, she became the youngest woman player to win the US national singles.

In 1953 she became the first woman tennis player ever to complete the Grand Slam, taking the US National Women's title at Forest Springs, New York to add to her Wimbledon, French and Australian open titles.

Baseline specialist

Last July (1954), she broke her leg in a horse riding accident just a few weeks before she was due to defend her US title. Although she planned to return to tennis, she has recently realised she will never regain her previous form.

Maureen Connolly's tennis career began at the age of 10 on the municipal courts of San Diego. Her first coach Wilbur Folsom encouraged her to switch from left-handed to right and she soon became a baseline specialist with an especially strong backhand.

She earned her nickname "Little Mo" from the sportswriters who likened her explosiveness on court to the battleship USS Missouri, known as "Big Mo", which was based in her home town.

She later became a student of Eleanor "Teach" Tennant, a famous and demanding coach, who attempted to develop her competitive instinct by encouraging her to hate her opponents.

Her announcement today comes as she has revealed plans to get married. Her fiancÚ is Norman Brinker, a US Navy officer and former member of the US Olympic equestrian team.

She plans to take up sports writing for a San Diego newspaper and will also continue to play a role as a tennis coach.

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Little Mo holding one of her Wimbledon trophies courtesy of Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation
Little Mo pictured with one of her Wimbledon trophies



In Context
Maureen Connolly was back at Wimbledon in July 1955 reporting on the championships for her local newspaper.

In an interview for the BBC's Panorama, she said her life as a housewife and journalist was keeping her too busy to miss playing tennis.

She set up the Maureen Connolly Brinker Foundation to encourage the development of young players in her home state of Texas.

The Foundation has since expanded and now runs competitions for young players worldwide.

She was elected to the National Lawn Tennis Hall of Fame in 1968.

The following year she was diagnosed with cancer and died, aged 34.

One of her daughters, Cindy Brinker Simmons, set up a charity, Wipe Out Kids' Cancer, in memory of her mother.

Her record as youngest Grand Slam winner was beaten by American Tracey Austin in 1979, when she was just three months short of her 17th birthday.

Stories From 22 Feb


 
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