Golden Gate Tennis Club



Alice Marble (September 28, 1913 – December 13, 1990) was an American tennis player who won 18 Grand Slam championships from 1936 through 1940. Five of those championships were in singles, six were in women's doubles, and seven were in mixed doubles. Born in the small town of Beckwourth, California, Marble moved with her family at the age of five to San Francisco. She excelled in many sports such as baseball, but her brother persuaded her to try a more lady-like sport, tennis, which she quickly honed while playing in Golden Gate Park. As teen, she won several California junior tournaments. She was challenged in 1934 after collapsing during a match at the French Championships. Doctors diagnosed her with pleurisy and tuberculosis. She took an extended rest but roared back into competition. At the U.S. Championships, Marble won the singles title in 1936, 1938, 1939, and 1940. She won the women's doubles title with Sarah Palfrey Cooke in 1937, 1938, 1939, and 1940. And she won the mixed doubles title in 1936 (with Gene Mako), 1938 (with Don Budge), 1939 (with Harry Hopman), and 1940 (with Bobby Riggs). At Wimbledon, Marble won the singles title in 1939. She won the women's doubles title with Cooke in 1938 and 1939. And she won the mixed doubles title in 1937 (with Budge), 1938 (with Budge), and 1939 (with Riggs). In Wightman Cup competition, Marble lost only one singles and one doubles match during the years she competed (1933 and 1937 through 1940). Marble was the Associated Press Athlete of the Year in 1939 and 1940. After capping a stellar amateur career in 1940, Marble turned professional and earned a great sum of money traveling around playing exhibition tournaments. Through illness and victory, Marble had the support of her coach and mentor, Eleanor "Teach" Tennant, who changed her technique and influenced her life. During World War II, Marble was married to Joe Crowley, a pilot, who was killed in action over Germany. Only days before his death, she miscarried their child following a car accident. After an attempt to kill herself, she recuperated and in 1945 agreed to spy for U.S. intelligence. Her mission involved renewing contact with a former lover, a Swiss banker, and obtaining Nazi financial data. The operation ended when a Nazi agent shot her in the back. She was extracted and recovered from her injury. Few details of the operation ever emerged because of her silence. The story was told only after her death when Courting Danger (ISBN 0-312-92813-0), a second autobiography, was published. In 1964, Marble was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Weakened by pernicious anemia, Marble died at a hospital in Palm Springs, California.