Between 1927-33, American tennis star Helen Wills reigned supreme ranked as the world’s number one women’s tennis player, winning 31 Grand Slam tournament titles and 14 out of 19 major Women’s Singles Championships. Wills won Wimbledon 8 times, a record that remained unbroken, until Martina Navratilova won her ninth Wimbledon singles championship in 1990.
American world tennis champion, Helen Wills
American ‘Big’ Bill Tilden dominated the men’s game from 1920-26. At 6 foot 2 inches tall, Tilden was an athletic and imposing figure on court, defeating his opponents using a clever use of drop shots and lobs, and mastering the use of spin.
American tennis star, Bill Tilden
Bill Tilden in action, 1920s
René Lacoste was a quiet, unassuming French tennis champion who had a brief seven-year career that ended when he was just 24 years old. Lacoste won 11 tournaments - seven singles in Paris (1925, 1927, 1929), twice at Wimbledon (1925, 1928) and twice in the U.S. (1926, 1927). He also won four doubles championships.
René Lacoste, 1920s, with the crocodile motif on his blazer.
René Lacoste as an older man
Kitty McKane (later Godfrey) was a British tennis player who made the Wimbledon singles finals in 1923, won the Wimbledon singles title in 1926 and won an additional five major titles in doubles and mixed doubles during her career.
British Tennis star Kitty McKane, wearing a classic 1920s tennis outfit.
In 1922, McKane played with her sister Margaret in the Wimbledon doubles final, but the pair were defeated by Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen and American Elizabeth Ryan. Until Venus and Serena Williams won the women’s doubles title in 2000, the McKane sisters were the only siblings to appear in a women’s doubles final at Wimbledon.
Kitty McKane, 1920s