Nuthall, Betty (1911—)

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Nuthall, Betty (1911—)

British tennis champion. Born in England in 1911; daughter of Stuart Nuthall.

Won the British Junior championship (1924); won seven more titles in this event (1925, 1926, 1927); won the women's singles in the Westgate-on-Sea tournament (1925); won the U.S. mixed doubles championship with George Lott (1929, 1931).

A tennis prodigy trained by her father, Betty Nuthall beat the reigning American champion Molla Mallory in an early round at Wimbledon in 1927, though she never made it past the quarterfinals. In 1930, Nuthall defeated Anna Harper in the finals of the U.S. singles at Forest Hills, the first player from overseas, and the only English woman, to do so before Virginia Wade . She also took the doubles with her partner Sarah Palfrey , a win that she would reprise in 1931 with Eileen Whittingstall and in 1933 with Freda James .

But Nuthall, who came from the suburb of Surbiton in nearby Surrey, could never break her Wimbledon jinx: over a span of 20 years, she was a four-time semiquarter singles finalist, a four-time doubles semifinalist, and a three-time mixed semifinalist. She is said to have lost her fire after her father's unexpected death in 1925: Stuart Nuthall, who was undergoing a routine operation for tennis elbow, died from complications with the anesthetic.