Julie Heldman

Julie Heldman (born December 8, 1945) is a retired American tennis player who won 22 women's singles titles. In 1969 and 1974, she was ranked World No. 5, her highest career ranking. In 1968 and 1969, she was ranked No. 2 in the U.S. She was Canadian National 18 and Under Singles Champion at age 12, U.S. Champion in Girls’ 15 Singles and Girls’ 18 Singles, Italian Open Singles Champion, Canadian Singles and Doubles Champion, and U.S. Clay Court Doubles Champion. She won three medals at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, and three gold medals at the 1969 Maccabiah Games.[2]

Julie Heldman
Julie Heldman 1969.jpg
Heldman winning the 1969 Italian Open
Full nameJulie Medalie Heldman
Country (sports) United States
ResidenceSanta Monica, California
Born (1945-12-08) December 8, 1945 (age 75)
Berkeley, California, US
Height5 ft 7 in (1.70 m)[1]
Turned pro1970
Career record70–31
Highest rankingNo. 5 (1969 and 1974)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian OpenSF (1974)
French OpenSF (1970)
WimbledonQF (1969)
US OpenSF (1974)
Career record39–22
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian OpenSF (1974)
WimbledonQF (1969, 1974)
US OpenQF (1968, 1969)
Medal record
Maccabiah Games
Gold medal – first place 1969 Israel Singles
Gold medal – first place 1969 Israel Women's doubles
Gold medal – first place 1969 Israel Mixed doubles

In 2018, Heldman published a memoir, Driven, A Daughter's Odyssey.[3] The book offers insights into the history of women's tennis in the mid-20th century, including an insider's account of the birth of the tour. Heldman reveals her struggles with the trauma of her mother's emotional abuse and with bipolar disorder.

Early lifeEdit

Heldman was born in Berkeley, California, the daughter of Julius and Gladys Heldman. Julius was the 1936 National Junior Champion. He was a scientist and a leading amateur player, and Gladys Heldman was the founder, editor, and publisher of World Tennis magazine and the founder of the women's pro tour in 1970. Heldman is Jewish.[4][5][6][7][1] Her older sister, Carrie, was also a competitive tennis player.[8]


Heldman received her Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University in 1966, and her Juris Doctor from UCLA Law School in 1981,[9] where she was a UCLA Law Review editor and was Law School Graduate of the Year, as well as UCLA Graduate Woman of the Year.[2]

Early tennis careerEdit

Heldman started playing tennis when she was eight, and won her first national title (the Canadian 18 and under singles) at age 12, in 1957. She won the US National Girls 15 & under singles title in 1960 and the US National Girls 18 and under title in 1963.[8]

While a student at Stanford University in 1964, Heldman reached the national collegiate singles and doubles finals.[9][2]

In 1965, Heldman reached the Italian championships semi-finals, won the Canadian National women's singles title, and was the finalist in the US National Clay Courts.


In 1968, Heldman won a gold, a silver, and a bronze medal at the Mexico City Olympic Games when tennis was a demonstration sport[1] Also in 1968, she won the South American mixed doubles with partner Herb Fitzgibbon.

Later tennis careerEdit

In early 1969, Heldman had two wins over world number one Margaret Court, one win over U.S. Number One Nancy Richey, and two wins over the 1968 U.S. Open champion Virginia Wade.[10]

Heldman's most important title was the Italian Open, where she beat Ann Jones in the semis and Kerry Melville in the final.

During her career, Heldman reached the semifinals of three Grand Slam singles championships: the 1970 French Open, the 1974 Australian Open, and the 1974 US Open.

She also won doubles title at the US Women's Clay Court Championships and at the Canadian Open in 1974.

She was one of the Original 9, which was a group of female tennis players who joined the Virginia Slims Circuit, even with the risk of suspension for doing so. The Virginia Slims Circuit eventually led to the creation of the WTA Tour.[11]

Women's pro tourEdit

In 1970, Heldman's mother, Gladys, established the women's pro tour at the suggestion of Larry King and the sponsorship of Joe Cullman and Virginia Slims. She ran the tour for its first three years. Julie Heldman was one of the Original 9 players who competed in the Houston event, and she played on the tour until she retired in 1975.

Federation CupEdit

Heldman played on the US Federation Cup teams that captured the world team championship in 1966 and 1969. She also played on the U.S. Federation Cup teams in 1970, 1974, and 1975. She was the captain of the team in 1975. Her career win-loss record in Federation Cup competition was 21–9.[12]

Maccabiah GamesEdit

Heldman in 1972

Heldman won three gold medals at the 1969 Maccabiah Games, in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.[8]

Other career highlightsEdit

  • Ranked in the USTA Top 10, 1963–65, 1968–69, 1971–75
  • Ranked in the World Top 10, 1969–70, 1973–74
  • Virginia Slims Professional Tour, 1971–75
  • U.S. Wightman Cup Team Member, 1969–71, 1974; Most Valuable Player, 1969; Team Captain, 1974–75
  • U.S. Bonne Bell Cup Team Member, 1973–1974; Most Valuable Player, Team Captain, 1974
  • Winner of USTA Service Bowl 1975

Halls of FameEdit

Heldman was inducted into the:

Personal lifeEdit

After Heldman ended her playing career, she worked as a television color commentator and journalist, with CBS, NBC, PBS, and HBO at the US Open and Wimbledon, 1973–1978. She published articles about tennis in various magazines, including World Tennis and Seventeen. She was the first woman to cover a men's tennis event (the 1976 Avis Challenge Cup).[8]

In 1981, Heldman married Bernie Weiss, and their daughter Amy was born in 1987. In 1985, Heldman became president and co-chair of Signature Eyewear. Heldman retired in 2000 because she suffered a breakdown that lasted nearly 15 years.


Heldman's memoir Driven, A Daughter's Odyssey[3] was published in August 2018. She writes “the book became a mainstay of my existence. It has profoundly contributed to my well being.” The book has been praised by former players and critics alike. Tennis historian Steve Flink called it "mandatory reading."[14] Chris Evert called it a "must read."[15]

Portrayal in filmEdit

Bridey Elliott plays Heldman in the 2017 movie Battle of the Sexes.[16]

WTA Tour finalsEdit

Singles 1Edit

Grand Slam 0
WTA Championships 0
Tier I 0
Tier II 0
Tier III 0
Tier IV & V 0
Olympic Games 0
Result No. Date Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Loss 1. Oct 1968 Mexico City Olympics (Exhibition), Mexico Clay   Peaches Bartkowicz 3–6, 2–6

Doubles 2 (1–1)Edit

Grand Slam 0
WTA Championships 0
Tier I 0
Tier II 0
Tier III 0
Tier IV & V 1
Olympic Games 0
Result No. Date Tournament Surface Partner Opponents Score
Loss 1. Oct 1968 Mexico City Olympics (Demonstration), Mexico Clay   Rosy Darmon   Edda Buding
  Helga Niessen
3–6, 4–6
Win 2. Oct 1968 Mexico City Olympics (Exhibition), Mexico Clay   Rosy Darmon   Peaches Bartkowicz
  Valerie Ziegenfuss
6–0, 10–8

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Heldman, Julie. Jews in Sports
  2. ^ a b c "JULIE M. HELDMAN". ITA Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Heldman, Julie (August 15, 2018). Driven: A Daughter's Odyssey. ISBN 978-0692172483.
  4. ^ Riess, Steven A. (February 14, 1998). Sports and the American Jew. Syracuse University Press. ISBN 9780815627548. Retrieved February 14, 2019 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Goldman, David J. (September 1, 2013). Jewish Sports Stars (2nd Revised Edition): Athletic Heroes Past and Present. Kar-Ben. ISBN 9781467716499. Retrieved February 14, 2019 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Norwood, Stephen Harlan; Pollack, Eunice G. (February 14, 2019). Encyclopedia of American Jewish History. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781851096381. Retrieved February 14, 2019 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ Julie Heldman. Jewish Sports Hall of Fame
  8. ^ a b c d e "Julie Heldman". International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved May 15, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Slater, Robert (November 1, 2000). Great Jews in sports. J. David Publishers. ISBN 9780824604332. Retrieved February 14, 2019 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ John Barrett, ed. (1970). BP year book of World Tennis 1970. London: Clipper Press. p. 155. ISBN 0851080049. OCLC 502255545. OL 21635829M.
  11. ^ Nick Friend, for. "'Tennis gave me the ability to be somebody': Julie Heldman on depression and bottling up abuse". CNN. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  12. ^ Julie Heldman career Federation Cup record. fedcup.com
  13. ^ "USTA EASTERN HALL OF FAME : 2006 INDUCTEES". February 20, 2007. Archived from the original on February 20, 2007.
  14. ^ "Julie Heldman's new book, Driven, is mandatory reading". Tennis.com. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  15. ^ Evert, Chris (October 13, 2018). "Listened to this great interview with Julie's truth and intelligence coming forth in a very real manner....a must read...addresses so many of today's issues affecting all of us...thank you, Julie...https://twitter.com/BenRothenberg/status/1050582112997380096 ..." twitter.com. Retrieved February 14, 2019. External link in |title= (help)
  16. ^ "Battle of the Sexes (2017)". Retrieved February 14, 2019 – via www.imdb.com.

External linksEdit