U.S. Postal Service Announces "Little Mo" Stamp
January 29, 2019
The U.S. Postal Service announced today that tennis champion Maureen Connolly Brinker (Hall of Fame Class of 1982) will be honored in a new collection of Forever stamps.
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. Her powerful forehand and backhand strokes reminded both her fans and sports writers of the “Big Mo,” the great battleship USS Missouri and earned her the nickname of "Little Mo.” 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 illusive 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. Though her competitive career was over, Maureen actively engaged in coaching, conducting tennis clinics, attending college at SMU in Dallas and working on community enrichment through tennis. In 1955 she married Olympian equestrian Norman Brinker and helped him to establish the first of many successful restaurant chains. Her dedication also laid the groundwork for the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation, which she co-founded with her dear friend Nancy Jeffett to promote junior tennis.
Tragically in 1969, Maureen succumbed to cancer at the age of 34. She was survived by her husband Norman and their two daughters Cindy and Brenda. Little Mo’s love of the game lives on in the achievements of young, talented tennis players whose lives have been impacted by her namesake foundation. Brinker Elementary School in Plano, Texas is named in her honor. Other distinctions include induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame (1968), the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame (1982) and into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame (1987).
The will stamp feature an oil-on-linen painting of the tennis star by Gregory Manchess Art. Art Director Derry Noyes designed the stamp. It will be issued as nondenominated forever stamp, which now sell for 55¢ each to match the postage rate for letter mail effective January 27. The First Day of Issue Stamp Dedication Ceremony will be held on April 23 in Dallas, Texas.