Heldman, Julie (1945—)

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Heldman, Julie (1945—)

American tennis champion. Born Julie Medalie Heldman in Berkeley, California on December 8, 1945; daughter of Gladys (Medalie) Heldman (b. 1922, a publisher and tennis player) and Julius Heldman (a tennis player who also worked on the Manhattan Project); graduated Stanford University, 1966; married Bernard Weiss (a businessman), in 1978.

Won the Italian Open, the Maccabiah Games, and played #1 for the U.S. in the Wightman Cup competition (1969); a graduate of UCLA Law School, became an attorney after retiring from professional tennis (1975); became a television commentator and was the first woman to give commentary on a men's tennis tournament (1976).

Julie Heldman's parents both played tennis so it was natural for her to take up the game as a young girl. Her father Julius Heldman won the National Junior championship in 1936 and her mother Gladys was a champion at Texas State in the early 1950s. In 1953, Gladys Heldman founded World Tennis magazine. In 1954, Julie Heldman was sent to Hoxie Tennis Camp in Hamtramck, Michigan, America's first tennis campsite. For seven summers, she would attend Hoxie. In 1958, Heldman won the Canadian Junior championship and, in 1960, the U.S. National. Graduating from high school at 16, Heldman entered Stanford which had no women's tennis team at the time. In 1963, like her father, she won the National Junior tournament title. In 1966, she swept all five of her matches in the Federation Cup tournament, a five-nation event held in Turin, Italy.

Graduating from Stanford in 1966 with a degree in history, Heldman left tennis and went to live in a commune in Woodside, California. When this quickly got old, she began playing competitively again. In 1969, she won the Italian Open, as well as singles, doubles, and mixed doubles in the Maccabiah Games. At that time, Heldman was ranked #2 in the United States and #5 in the world. Injury in 1970 forced Heldman off the court for a time, and in 1972 she underwent surgery for torn cartilage in her knee. Training with Angela Buxton and Jimmy Jones, Heldman overcame her injuries and had a better year in 1974, but a shoulder injury in 1975 terminated her professional tennis career. Heldman began writing articles for World Tennis and worked as a television commentator. She was the first woman to comment on a men's tennis tournament, the Avis Challenge Cup in Hawaii in 1976. Heldman entered University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) law school in 1978, the year she married, and joined a law firm in 1982.


Robertson, Max, ed. The Encyclopedia of Tennis. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1974.

Slater, Robert. Great Jews in Sports. Middle Village, NY: Jonathan David, 1983.

Karin Loewen Haag , freelance writer, Athens, Georgia