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On This Date in Sports August 26, 1933

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Helen Wills-Moody suffers her first loss in 158 matches, as she is defeated by rival Helen Jacobs (6-8, 6-3, 3-0) in the finals of the United States Nationals at Forest Hills Country Club in Queens. Wills, who last suffered a defeat in 1927, lost when he was forced to retire with a sore back in the third set trailing 3-0.

Helen Wills was born October 6, 1905, in the San Francisco area. The daughter of a doctor, Wills became interested in tennis after watching an exhibition when she was eight-years-old, leading her parents to purchase a tennis racket. Leading how to play on dirt courts in Alameda next to the hospital where he father worked. At the urging of a coach, she joined the Berkley Tennis Club and began competing throughout California.

Helen Wills won her first major championship when she won the U.S. National Championship at the age of 17 in 1923, as she won the tournament seven times in a nine-year stretch while missing the 1926 and 1931 tournaments. While attending the University of California, Helen Wills won a Gold Medal in tennis at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. She later added four titles at the French Nationals and eight Wimbledon singles titles.


After graduating from California, Helen Wills began her most dominant era, winning 158 straight matches over a six-year period. During this time, she married Frederik Moody, as she won every tournament she entered. In 1933, Helen Wills-Moody played an exhibition match against Phil Neer, the eighth-ranked men’s player in the world. In a shocking upset 40 years before Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs, Wills-Moody won in straight sets (6-3, 6-4).

The amazing streak of Helen Wills-Moody included the French Nationals titles in 1928, 1929, 1930 and 1932. Wimbledon titles 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1932 and 1933. While she won the U.S. Nationals in 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1931. Only her body seemed to beat her as it was a back injury which forced her to retire down 3-0 in the third set against Helen Jacobs in the finals of the U.S. Nationals after winning the first set 8-6 and losing the second 6-3.

In her 20-year career ending in 1938, Helen Wills-Moody compiled an incredible record of  398-35, a winning percentage of .919.