The Postal Service released a stamp last week honoring 1950s tennis legend Maureen Connolly Brinker. Here are six facts about the player known as “Little Mo.”
1. Her nickname comes from a battleship. San Diego sportswriter Nelson Fisher dubbed her “Little Mo” when she was 11, comparing the power of her forehand and backhand to the firepower of the USS Missouri, which was known as “Big Mo.”
2. She wasn’t her coach’s first star player. Eleanor Tennant became Connolly’s coach in 1948. Tennant had previously coached Alice Marble, who won 18 Grand Slam championships between 1936 and 1940, and Bobby Riggs, who was the top-ranked men’s player in 1939, 1946 and 1947.
3. She successfully sued over her 1954 career-ending accident. While horseback riding two weeks after winning her third Wimbledon title, a passing concrete mixer truck frightened her horse. Connolly was thrown off and suffered a compound fracture to her right fibula. She hired noted attorney Melvin Belli and sued the concrete mixer company, winning $95,000.
4. She’s in several halls of fame. In 1956, Connolly was inducted into the Breitbard Hall of Fame, which honors San Diego’s top athletes. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1968, the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1987, the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995, the Irish American Hall of Fame in 2017 and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.
5. NBC made a movie about her life. “Little Mo” starred Glynnis O’Connor as Connolly and aired in 1978. Connolly’s daughter, Cindy Brinker, had a part in the movie — as Susan Partridge, an opponent of Connolly in the 1952 Wimbledon Championships.
6. She has a school named for her. Maureen Connolly Brinker Elementary School in Plano, TX, which opened in 1988, is a member of the National Blue Ribbon Schools program.
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