"I've got everything I want. Everything I've had, I got through tennis. It gave me a terribly exciting life. I met so many people in exalted positions. It opened so many doors and it's still opening them. I've had a wonderful life. If I should leave tomorrow, I've had the experience of 20 people." - Maureen Connolly

Maureen Connolly was nationally recognized as a tennis star from San Diego in the 1950s.

At age eleven, she was dubbed "Little Mo" by San Diego sports writer Nelson Fisher who claimed that her power forehand and backhand had the same repower as the big guns of the USS Missouri, known as the "Big Mo."2 The Associated Press named her Female Athlete of the Year for three consecutive years (1952, 1953, and 1954), an honor she achieved by developing a particularly aggressive style of play. After her career came to a crashing halt on July 20, 1954, when she was thrown from her horse, "Little Mo" continued to pack a great deal into her life. She frequently told people, "I"ve lived ten lives." She was a tennis champion, newspaper reporter and author, wife, mother, restaurateur, sporting- goods spokeswoman, television and radio color commentator, philanthropist, and cancer victim, before dying at age thirty-four. The following article provides a retrospective look at the many lives of Maureen Connolly.

Early Life in San Diego and the Making of a Champion
On September 17, 1934, Jessamine and Martin Connolly awaited the birth of their rst child at Mercy Hospital in San Diego. Martin, a lieutenant commander in the Navy, served as an athletic trainer. According to Arthur Voss, "Connolly had been a boxer and played baseball, football, and hockey, but not tennis."3 Jessamine, who originally had hailed from Helena, Montana, danced and sang. Based on the baby's "lusty heart-beat," the obstetrician had assumed the newborn would be a boy. To everyone's surprise, a little girl "Maureen Catherine Connolly"was born. The new parents brought their baby girl home to their red brick bungalow on Idaho Street in the North Park district of San Diego.

The Connollys divorced when Maureen was only four. "My last memory of my father came when I was ill. He looked down at me, smiled and told me he would buy me a chocolate sundae, topped with nuts, when I recovered. We never heard from him, never knew where he might have gone."4 Young Maureen was later told that he had died in an accident, a story that turned out to be false.

Maureen's mother, Jessamine, wanted her daughter to become the great musician and dancer that she herself never had the chance to become. According to Beverly Beyette, she was "the antithesis of the stage mother"a vacillating, indecisive woman, a frustrated would-be concert pianist who wound up playing for weddings and found vicarious pleasure in her daughter's triumphs."5 Maureen attempted ballet, singing, and piano lessons but, "on her way to more tom-boy pursuits on the University Heights Playground," she stumbled across a tennis match being played by two local professionals, Gene Garrett and Arnie Saul. Enthralled by the sport, she soon learned that all she needed was "a racket in my hand to vanquish any little boy or girl in the neighborhood."

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