Osborne, Margaret (1918—)
Osborne, Margaret (1918—)
American tennis player. Name variations: Margaret Osborne duPont; Mrs. W. duPont. Born Margaret Osborne on March 4, 1918, in Joseph, Oregon; married William duPont, in 1947 (divorced 1964); children: one son.
Won first national title (1936); won French Open singles titles (1946, 1949); won Wimbledon singles title (1947); won U.S. championship singles titles (1948, 1949, 1950); with Louise Brough, won French Open doubles titles three times, Wimbledon doubles titles five times, the U.S. doubles championship twelve times; won U.S. mixed doubles championship nine times; inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame (1967).
Born in 1918, Margaret Osborne spent her earliest years on a farm in Oregon before her family moved to Spokane, Washington, when she was ten. In Spokane, she frequently passed by some old tennis courts, and her mother, seeing Margaret's interest, gave her a tennis racket. When the family moved to San Francisco shortly thereafter, she began playing on the public tennis courts at Golden Gate Park. Soon she was competing in junior club tournaments, though she did not receive her first formal tennis lesson (from an ex-Davis Cup contender) until she was 17. The following year, in 1936, Osborne won the national girl's 18-and-under title. She was ranked 7th in the nation by the time she turned 20, and while winning 37 major tournaments over the next two decades would be ranked in the national Top 10 a total of 14 times, reaching #1 in 1948 and remaining there until 1950.
In 1942, Osborne joined with Louise Brough in a doubles partnership that would go down in tennis history. Their games were very similar: they both drove the ball hard from the baseline and attacked the net so frequently that critics said they played like men. With Osborne in the leadership role, the duo went on to win five Wimbledon doubles and 12 U.S. doubles championships. Until Osborne's temporary retirement in 1951 to give birth to her son, the two women were an unbeatable force on the court, and they competed together at select events until the mid-1950s. Though they were best friends off the court, they were fierce competitors when matched against each other in singles competition—an event that occurred so often that sportswriters began to refer to them as "the inevitable Osborne and Brough." Between them, they won every Wimbledon and U.S. singles title between 1947 and 1951. Their rivalry produced some exciting tennis, including the 1949 Wimbledon final, which Brough won, and the 1948 Forest Hills final, which ended with Osborne triumphant. Playing solo, Osborne also won the French championship in 1946 and 1949, Wimbledon in 1947, the U.S. championship in 1948, 1949, and 1950, and the Wightman Cup 10 times.
There were other doubles partners, including Sarah Palfrey , Bill Talbert, Ken McGregor, Ken Rosewall, and Neale Fraser. In fact, Osborne was playing mostly doubles when she turned 40 in 1958; that same year, she ranked 5th in the nation. In 1960, playing with Fraser at the U.S. mixed doubles championships, she won her last major title. Osborne was a nine-time captain of the U.S. Wightman Cup team, leading them to victory in eight competitions; one of these was the last game of her career, in 1962.
Osborne and her husband divorced in 1964, and she later shared a home and a successful thoroughbred breeding and racing business in El Paso, Texas, with Margaret Varner Bloss , a former doubles partner. With her 37 victories at major tournaments, Osborne was once ranked 4th in the list of all-time women's tennis champions, following Margaret Smith Court (62 wins), Martina Navratilova (54 wins), and Billie Jean King (39 wins). Considered one of the finest all-around American tennis players, she was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1967.
Johnson, Anne Janette. Great Women In Sports. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink, 1998.
King, Billie Jean. We Have Come a Long Way: The Story of Women's Tennis. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1988.
Jacqueline Mitchell , freelance writer, Detroit, Michigan