The First Female Gold Medalists, Week 3: Tennis and Track & Field

Excerpts taken from Team USA’s article dated March 24, 2016. 

For week 3, we’re going back to Paris and Amsterdam to look at the first America gold medalists in Tennis and Track & Field, which are two of the longest running Olympic sports for women.

1924, Paris – Tennis – Helen Wills

Wills dominated women’s tennis for much of the 1920s and ‘30s; her Olympic gold in 1924 was only the tip of the iceberg. She won her first U.S. championship in 1923, Olympic gold in both singles and doubles in 1924 and her first Wimbledon title in 1927. Over the course of her career, Wills won a total of 19 Grand Slam singles titles and 12 in doubles. A seven-time U.S. champion, Wills did not lose a single set in singles play from 1926-1932 and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1959.

1928, Amsterdam -Track and Field – Betty Robinson

The 100-meter race at the Amsterdam 1928 Olympic Games was only Robinson’s fourth 100-meter competition. The 16-year-old equaled the world record to take gold, the first-ever given in the event as it was brand new on the Olympic program. She added a silver with the 4×100-meter team. In 1931, Robinson was involved in a plane crash and was in a coma for seven months, missing the Los Angeles 1932 Olympic Games as she recovered. It took two years before she could fully walk again and was still unable to kneel for a normal 100-meter start when she competed at the Berlin 1936 Olympic Games. Competing only with the 4×100-meter team, she earned her second Olympic gold before retiring.