by Randy Walker
Wimbledon is a place where dreams come true, but also where nightmares occur as well.
On the most heart-breaking moments in Wimbledon history happened on July 6, 1935 when American Helen Jacobs lost the Wimbledon women’s singles final to Helen Wills Moody by missing a simple overhead smash on match point. Jacobs missed the easy shot when leading 5-3 in the final set, only to lose 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
Wrote Bud Collins in his famous “Bud Collins History of Tennis” book of Jacobs and her mishap, “Jacobs took a winning 4-2 lead in the third, with one powerful serve knocking the racket from Moody’s hand. She then broke Moody’s serve to lead 5-2, but Moody broke back to 3-5 in a game where she was facing a match point at 40-30 and Moody flicked a desperation lob with Jacobs at the net. It looked like a simple smash, but a gusty wind caused the ball to sink so swiftly that Jacobs had to drop to her knees to hit it…into the net. That turned the match around. Jacobs went down fighting, serving two aces when trailing 5-6, but losing the match, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. It was her fourth loss to Moody at Wimbledon, three in a final. Jacobs also lost to Moody in the 1928 U.S. final.”
There was redemption for Jacobs, however, as she goes on to win the title the following year – her only Wimbledon singles titles – defeating Hilde Krahwinkel 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in the final.
In 1938, Jacobs and Wills Moody again play in the Wimbledon final, but Jacobs is again hit with bad luck, twisting her ankle at 4-4 in the first set and is not able to move well around the court and loses the next eight games. The second set lasted a mere eight minutes.