Sarah Palfrey Cooke bigraphy, stories - American tennis player

Sarah Palfrey Cooke : biography

September 18, 1912 - February 27, 1996

Sarah Hammond Palfrey Danzig (September 18, 1912 – February 27, 1996) was a female tennis player from the United States.


Cooke twice won the singles title at the U.S. Championships, the second time in 1945 at the age of 32. She was only the second mother to have won the title, with Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman being the first. Cooke won the 1945 title after being down 4–3 in the third set to Pauline Betz Addie, with Betz Addie serving. Betz Addie was the three-time defending champion and would have won six consecutive titles had Cooke not defeated her in the 1941 and 1945 finals.

Cooke is one of the few women, if not the sole woman, to appear on a top-level male championship honor roll. Because of the manpower crisis during World War II, she and second husband Elwood Cooke were permitted in 1945 to enter the men's doubles of the Tri-State Championships in Cincinnati. They reached the final, losing to Hal Surface and Bill Talbert.

Cooke won 16 Grand Slam championships in women's doubles (11) and mixed doubles (5). She teamed with Betty Nuthall Shoemaker to win the 1930 U.S. Championships and with Helen Jacobs to win the 1932, 1934, and 1935 championships. Cooke and Alice Marble won the U.S. Championships 1937–40. At Wimbledon, Cooke and Marble won the 1938 and 1939 women's doubles championship. Cooke's final U.S. women's doubles championship was in 1941 with Margaret Osborne duPont. In mixed doubles, Cooke teamed with four different partners to win the U.S. Championships: Fred Perry (1932), Enrique Maier (1935), Don Budge (1937), and Jack Kramer (1941). Cooke also won the mixed doubles title at the 1939 French Championships, teaming with her future husband Elwood Cooke. Cooke and Marble were undefeated in doubles for four years (1937–40).

In 1947, Cooke turned professional and went on a "barnstorming" tour of one-night stands with Betz Addie, who had been stripped of her amateur status by the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) for merely inquiring about the possibility of creating a tour for professionals. They earned about US$10,000 each.

According to A. Wallis Myers and John Olliff of The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Cooke was ranked in the World Top Ten 1933–36 and 1938–39 (no rankings issued 1940–45), reaching a career high in those rankings of World No. 4 in 1934. Cooke was included in the year-end Top Ten rankings issued by the USLTA 1929–31, 1933–41, and 1945. She was the top-ranked U.S. player in 1941 and 1945.

Cooke and Marble lobbied the USLTA to remove the color bar and allow Althea Gibson to play at heretofore whites-only tournaments beginning in 1950. "She [Cooke] was calmly persuasive, had clout as an ex-champ, and got Althea into the U.S. Championships in 1950," said Gladys Heldman, founder of the Women's Professional Tennis Tour.

Cooke once said, "Tennis is the best game there is. It combines mental and physical qualities and is the sport for a lifetime. And there are many living examples at the age of 80 to prove it. So it is enough for us to know that tennis will remain, under whatever conditions, whether amateur or pro, the finest game there is for us, for our children, and our children's children."

Cooke was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1963.

She was married three times; to Marshall Fabyan, Elwood Cooke, and Jerome Alan Danzig and had two children.New York Times obituary. She married Fabyan on October 6, 1934, but divorced him in Reno, Nevada on July 20, 1940. She married Cooke on October 2, 1940, and had a daughter with him who was born on December 22, 1942. She divorced him on April 29, 1949, on grounds of cruelty. She married Danzig on April 27, 1951, and remained married to him until her death of lung cancer in 1996. She had a son with Danzig who was born December 19, 1952.

Her brother, John Palfrey, also an excellent tennis player and an expert on atomic energy, married Belle "Clochette" Roosevelt Palfrey, a granddaughter of Theodore Roosevelt and a daughter of Kermit Roosevelt. She also had four sisters, who were all fine tennis players.

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