Betz, Pauline (1919—)

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Betz, Pauline (1919—)

American tennis champion. Name variations: Bobbie Betz, Pauline Betz Addie. Born Pauline May Betz in Dayton, Ohio, on August 6, 1919; daughter of a tennis-playing mother who taught physical education; grew up in Los Angeles; bought 12 tennis lessons with Dick Skeen; studied economics at Rollins College in Florida, graduated, 1943; won a graduate scholarship to Columbia University; married Bob Addie (a sportswriter for the Washington Post); children: five.

Known as a baseline player, Pauline Betz' first major win was the U.S. singles title in 1942 over Louise Brough . She took the title once more from Brough in 1943 and in 1944 beat out Margaret Osborne . On V-J Day in 1945, Betz lost in the U.S. singles finals to Sarah Palfrey , during what was considered one of the best matches ever played at Forest Hills. Betz reclaimed the U.S. crown in 1946, routing Pat Todd .

But the women stars of the 1940s were little known; their names had been lost under the blanket of news coverage during World War II. After a bomb landed in Centre Court and abolished 1,200 seats in 1940, Wimbledon was suspended for the first half of the decade; repairs were not fully completed until 1949. France's famed Roland Garros was used as a holding pen by the Germans for death-camp deportees.

Betz was one of many athletes whose international careers were dormant during the war years. Shortly before leaving for Wimbledon in 1946, she was seated on a train next to a soldier and enjoyed his questions concerning her upcoming match. When they parted at the station, he said, "Well, good luck, Getz." Betz, who was called Getz for years by friends, placed first at Wimbledon, beating Brough in the finals 6–2, 6–4. In 1947, both Pauline Betz and Sarah Palfrey turned pro and took their games on tour. Betz then taught tennis well into her 60s in Bethesda, Maryland.