“Little Mo” Makes History

No player dominated her competition as entirely as Maureen Connolly throughout her brief but memorable career. She was an active player for about four years, but in that time, she won 12 major titles, comprising nine singles titles, two doubles titles, and one mixed doubles title.


In 1953, Maureen (Little Mo) Connolly became the second person and first woman to win the Grand Slam in singles. During her domination through the four majors, she lost only one set.

Photo courtesy of AP Photo

More impressively, from 1951 to 1954, she won every singles major tournament she entered and finished her career 9-0 in the finals. In all nine of these titles, she only dropped one set, at the 1951 US Open in a match against Shirley Fry. She was unbeaten in 50 consecutive matches and compiled an overall record of 53-2 combined singles at the majors. However, her tennis career, including these incredible accomplishments, occurred before her 20th birthday.

Of Connolly’s nine major singles titles, three each came at Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals, two at the French, and one at the Australian Championships. To achieve her calendar Grand Slam in 1953, she had to defeat fellow American Doris Hart in the French Championships, Wimbledon, and US Championships finals. Additionally, as a member of the Wightman Cup team from 1951-1954, Connolly led the U.S. to four straight championships and went undefeated (7-0) in singles.

1953 Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles Championship Trophy presented to Maureen Connolly

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However, less than one year after her Grand Slam, and just weeks after her win at Wimbledon in 1954, tragedy struck. A longtime equestrian, Connolly was riding her horse when an accident occurred resulting in her leg being crushed between her horse and a vehicle, ending her budding tennis career. Her early and resounding success have prompted tennis historians to speculate about what she could have accomplished without her career-ending injury, followed by a premature death due to cancer at 34 years old.

Photo courtesy of AP Photo