Alice Irene Marble (September 28, 1913 – December 13, 1990) was an American tennis player who won 18 Grand Slam championships between 1936 and 1940: five in singles, six in women's doubles, and seven in mixed doubles. She was ranked world No. 1 in 1939.

Alice Marble
Marble in 1937
Full nameAlice Irene Marble
Country (sports) United States
Born(1913-09-28)September 28, 1913
Beckwourth, California, U.S.
DiedDecember 13, 1990(1990-12-13) (aged 77)
Palm Springs, California, U.S.
Int. Tennis HoF1964 (member page)
Highest rankingNo. 1 (1939)
Grand Slam singles results
French Open2R (1934)
WimbledonW (1939)
US OpenW (1936, 1938, 1939, 1940)
Grand Slam doubles results
WimbledonW (1938, 1939)
US OpenW (1937, 1938, 1939, 1940)
Career recordIncomplete
Grand Slam mixed doubles results
WimbledonW (1937, 1938, 1939)
US OpenW (1936, 1938, 1939, 1940)
Team competitions
Wightman CupW (1933, 1937, 1938, 1939)

Early life


Born in the small town of Beckwourth, California, Marble moved with her family at the age of five to San Francisco. A tomboy, she played seven sports at San Francisco Polytechnic High School, including basketball and baseball, but her brother persuaded her to try tennis.[1] She quickly mastered the game, playing in Golden Gate Park, and by age 15, won several California junior tournaments.

Tennis career


At the U.S. Championships, Marble won the singles title in 1936 and from 1938 to 1940, the women's doubles title with Sarah Palfrey Cooke from 1937 to 1940, and the mixed doubles title with Gene Mako in 1936, Don Budge in 1938, Harry Hopman in 1939, and Bobby Riggs in 1940.

At Wimbledon, Marble won the singles title in 1939; the women's doubles title with Cooke in 1938 and 1939 and the mixed doubles title with Budge in 1937 and 1938 as well as the mixed doubles title with Riggs in 1939.

In Wightman Cup team competition, Marble lost only one singles and one doubles match in the years she competed (1933, 1937–39).

According to A. Wallis Myers and John Olliff of The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Marble was ranked in the world top 10 from 1936 to 1939 (no rankings issued 1940–1945), reaching a career high in those rankings of world No. 1 in 1939.[2] Marble was included in the year-end top ten rankings issued by the United States Lawn Tennis Association in 1932–33 and 1936–40. She was the top-ranked U.S. player from 1936 to 1940.[3]

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 more than $100,000, travelling around playing exhibition tournaments.[1]



For a brief time after retirement, she worked on the editorial advisory board of DC Comics and was credited as an associate editor on Wonder Woman. She created the "Wonder Women of History" feature for the comics, which told the stories of prominent women of history in comic form.[4]

In her second autobiography Courting Danger (released after her death in 1990), Marble mentions that, back in the 1940s, she had married Joe Crowley around World War II, 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 early 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 after chasing her while she was trying to escape in a car, but she recovered. Few details of this operation have been corroborated by journalists and authors who tried to investigate this part of her life in the years from the time of her death to the present. No Swiss banker has been discovered, leading to suspicions that this man of mystery might have been a Nazi, someone who Marble may have been trying to avoid having had an association.

Marble greatly contributed to the desegregation of American tennis by writing an editorial in support of Althea Gibson for the July 1, 1950 issue of American Lawn Tennis Magazine. The article read "Miss Gibson is over a very cunningly wrought barrel, and I can only hope to loosen a few of its staves with one lone opinion. If tennis is a game for ladies and gentlemen, it's also time we acted a little more like gentle-people and less like sanctimonious hypocrites...If Althea Gibson represents a challenge to the present crop of women players, it's only fair that they should meet that challenge on the courts." Marble said that, if Gibson were not given the opportunity to compete, "then there is an ineradicable mark against a game to which I have devoted most of my life, and I would be bitterly ashamed." Gibson, age 23, was given entry into the 1950 U.S. Championships, becoming the first African-American player, man or woman, to compete in a Grand Slam event.

In 1964, Marble was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She settled in Palm Desert, California, where she taught tennis until her death.[5] One of her students was Billie Jean King.[6]

Weakened by pernicious anaemia, Marble died at a hospital in Palm Springs, California.[7]



Alice Marble Tennis Courts, providing a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate bridge from the top of Russian Hill in San Francisco, is named in her honor.[8]

Grand Slam finals

Alice Marble posing for the National Portrait Gallery in 1939.

Singles (5 titles)

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Win 1936 U.S. Championships Grass   Helen Jacobs 4–6, 6–3, 6–2
Win 1938 U.S. Championships Grass   Nancye Wynne 6–0, 6–3
Win 1939 Wimbledon Grass   Kay Stammers 6–2, 6–0
Win 1939 U.S. Championships Grass   Helen Jacobs 6–0, 8–10, 6–4
Win 1940 U.S. Championships Grass   Helen Jacobs 6–2, 6–3

Doubles (6 titles)

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Win 1937 U.S. National Championships Grass   Sarah Fabyan   Marjorie Gladman Van Ryn
  Carolin Babcock
7–5, 6–4
Win 1938 Wimbledon Championships Grass   Sarah Fabyan   Simonne Mathieu
  Billie Yorke
6–2, 6–3
Win 1938 U.S. National Championships Grass   Sarah Fabyan   Simonne Mathieu
  Jadwiga Jędrzejowska
6–8, 6–4, 6–3
Win 1939 Wimbledon Championships Grass   Sarah Fabyan   Helen Jacobs
  Billie Yorke
6–1, 6–0
Win 1939 U.S. National Championships Grass   Sarah Fabyan   Kay Stammers
  Freda Hammersley
7–5, 8–6
Win 1940 U.S. National Championships Grass   Sarah Fabyan   Dorothy Bundy
  Marjorie Gladman Van Ryn
6–4, 6–3

Mixed doubles (7 titles)

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Win 1936 U.S. National Championships Grass   Gene Mako   Sarah Fabyan
  Don Budge
6–3, 6–2
Win 1937 Wimbledon Championships Grass   Don Budge   Simonne Mathieu
  Yvon Petra
6–4, 6–1
Win 1938 Wimbledon Championships Grass   Don Budge   Sarah Fabyan
  Henner Henkel
6–1, 6–4
Win 1938 U.S. National Championships Grass   Gene Mako   Thelma Coyne Long
  John Bromwich
6–1, 6–2
Win 1939 Wimbledon Championships Grass   Bobby Riggs   Frank Wilde
  Nina Brown
9–7, 6–1
Win 1939 U.S. National Championships Grass   Harry Hopman   Sarah Fabyan
  Elwood Cooke
9–7, 6–1
Win 1940 U.S. National Championships Grass   Bobby Riggs   Dorothy Bundy
  Jack Kramer
9–7, 6–1

Grand Slam singles tournament timeline

(W) winner; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (DNQ) did not qualify; (A) absent; (NH) not held; (SR) strike rate (events won / competed); (W–L) win–loss record.
Tournament 1931 1932 1933 1934 1935 1936 1937 1938 1939 1940 Career SR
Australia A A A A A A A A A A 0 / 0
France A A A 2R A A A A A NH 0 / 1
Wimbledon A A A A A A SF SF W NH 1 / 3
United States 1R 3R QF A A W QF W W W 4 / 8
SR 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 0 1 / 1 0 / 2 1 / 2 2 / 2 1 / 1 5 / 12

See also



  1. ^ a b Julie Cart (December 14, 1990). "Women's pioneer Alice Marble dies:Tennis: As a national champion in the '30s, she played a serve-and-volley game". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ Collins, Bud (2008). The Bud Collins History of Tennis: An Authoritative Encyclopedia and Record Book. New York, N.Y: New Chapter Press. pp. 695, 702. ISBN 978-0-942257-41-0.
  3. ^ United States Tennis Association (1988). 1988 Official USTA Tennis Yearbook. Lynn, Massachusetts: H.O. Zimman, Inc. p. 260.
  4. ^ Brian Cronin (September 23, 2011). "Comic book legends revealed #333".
  5. ^ Julianne Cicarelli (2002). "Marble, Alice." Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Thematic Series: Sports Figures. Charles Scribner's Sons.
  6. ^ Wall Street Journal, August 10, 2020, page A15
  7. ^ Rogers, Thomas (December 14, 1990). "Obituary - Alice Marble, 77, top U.S. tennis star of 1930's". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Weintraub (2020), p. 390

General and cited references

  • Leary, Kevin (December 14, 1990). "Ex-Tennis Champ Alice Marble". San Francisco Chronicle, p. B7.
  • Marble, Alice, with Dale Leatherman (1991). Courting Danger. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • Rogers, Thomas (December 14, 1990). "Alice Marble, 77, Top U.S. Tennis Star of 1930s" (subscription required). The New York Times, p. D23.
  • Weintraub, Robert (2020). The Devine Miss Marble. New York: Dutton. ISBN 9781524745363. OCLC 1132238984.
  • Yardley, Jonathan (June 12, 1991). "Sizzling Serves". The Washington Post. p. F2.

Further reading

  • Blais, Madeleine (2023). Queen of the Court : The Many Lives of Tennis Legend Alice Marble. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN 9780802128324. OCLC 1373845050.