Maureen Connolly Brinker
Induction Year: 1982
Maureen Connolly Brinker (1934-1969), known as “Little Mo,” was an American tennis player, the winner of nine Grand Slam singles titles in the early 1950s. The first woman ever to win tennis’ coveted Grand Slam, Maureen Connolly started her brief but legendary career in San Diego, California as a 10 year old in 1944. In 1948 the 14 year old became the youngest winner of Southern California’s 18 and under Division Championship. In 1950 at age 16, she was ranked as the number one junior girl by the United States Lawn Tennis Association (now USTA).
In 1951 before the age of 17, Maureen became the youngest player ever to win the prestigious U.S. National Championship (now the U.S. Open). In 1952 she successfully defended her U.S. title and also won Wimbledon. Then in 1953, she won fourteen titles, including all four of the majors in one calendar year to complete the elusive Grand Slam (Australian, French, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open), becoming the first woman and second player ever to accomplish that feat. In the history of tennis, only a few players have won the Grand Slam.
In 1954 Maureen won both Wimbledon and the French Open. She also captured the Wightman Cup for four straight years (1951-1954), winning all seven of her singles matches. The Associated Press named her “Female Athlete of the Year” for three consecutive years (1951 through 1953) and the USTA ranked her as number one in the world in 1952 and 1953.
Maureen was still playing as an amateur when she suffered a career-ending injury in July 1954. Shortly after winning her third straight Wimbledon title, the calf muscles in her right leg were severely damaged in a horseback-riding accident.
In June 1955 Maureen married Norman Brinker, a member of the 1952 Olympic equestrian team for the United States, who shared her love of horses. They lived in Texas where they had two daughters, Cindy and Brenda, and she remained involved in tennis, acting as a correspondent for some U.S. and British newspapers at major tennis tournaments. Maureen was a coach for the British Wightman Cup team during its visits to the U.S. In 1968 she and friend Nancy Jeffett founded the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation to promote junior tennis. Maureen was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1968. In June 1969 she died of cancer at the age of 34.