Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

Queen of the Court

The Many Lives of Tennis Legend Alice Marble

by Madeleine Blais

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Madeleine Blais, the dramatic and untold story of legendary tennis star and international celebrity, Alice Marble

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date August 15, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6574-9
  • US List Price $30.00

In August 1939, Alice Marble graced the cover of Life magazine, photographed by the legendary Alfred Eisenstaedt. She was a worldwide celebrity, having that year won singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles titles at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, an unprecedented feat, then and now. Today, one of America’s greatest female athletes and most charismatic characters is largely forgotten. Alice Marble, by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Madeleine Blais, places her back on center stage.

Born in 1913, Marble grew up in San Francisco; her favorite sport, baseball. Given a tennis racket at age 13, she took to the sport immediately, rising to the top with a powerful, aggressive serve-and-volley style unseen in women’s tennis. A champion at the height of her fame in the late 1930s, she also designed a clothing line in the off-season and sang love songs in the Sert Room of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York to rave reviews. World War II derailed her tennis career, but her life off the court was, if anything, even more eventful and impactful. Though shielded in mystery, she was likely recruited as a spy during the war to help recover stolen art. Ever glamorous and connected, she had a part in the 1952 Tracy and Hepburn movie Pat and Mike and played tennis with the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, and Carole Lombard. However, perhaps her greatest legacy lies in her successful efforts, working largely alone, to persuade the all-white U.S. Lawn Tennis Association to change its policy and allow African-American star Althea Gibson to compete for the U.S. championship, thereby breaking tennis’s color barrier.

In sparkling prose, the author of the bestselling In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle recaptures a glittering life story.

Praise for In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction

“Beautifully written . . . a celebration of girls and athletics.”—USA Today

“Joyful . . . The reader gets a real sense of these girls and their dreams.”—New York Times Book Review

“Tender and upbeat . . . Wonderfully wry . . . A delight to read.”—Philadelphia Inquirer

“Flows like a novel . . . These basketball players show us what women can do when they work together as a team.”—Atlanta Constitution

“Engrossing . . . Better than the best pep talk, this book will kindle your pride in your own unique, feminine strength.”—New Woman


Praise for To the New Owners

“[An] evocative memoir . . . Blais comes to her subject with two major advantages: She’s a deft and witty Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and her husband’s parents were well-connected powerhouses . . . To the New Owners sparkles when Blais focuses on her family’s frequently funny experiences . . . Blais pointedly showcases the simpler, more modest and, alas, rapidly disappearing old Vineyard she loves. Unfortunately, the changes she mourns are happening everywhere. Which makes records like this all the more valuable.”Washington Post

“For anyone who has ever been curious about life on the Vineyard, or fantasized about settling in, Blais offers a diverting portrait . . . Blais has stitched together [the memoir] from the writings and stories of others, as well as her own wistful, often wry observations . . . Throughout, Blais exhibits a veteran reporter’s instinct for even-handedness.”Boston Globe

“A bittersweet ode to a Martha’s Vineyard home . . . The chapter on formidable Vineyard doyenne and Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham is the most charming in the book, positively luminous with nostalgic affection. And the broader canvas of Vineyard life—the shops, the storms, the wry local humor—is painted with exactly the kind of skill and evocation readers would expect from the author of the bestselling In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle.”Christian Science Monitor

“Blais writes with eye, mind, and heart in equal measure. I laughed aloud, teared up at least once a chapter, and sighed with recognition throughout. Coming to the end was as bittersweet as Labor Day.”George Howe Colt, author of The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home

“Madeleine Blais knows the secret of a superb memoir: a wry sense of humor and an honest sense of gratitude leaven the inevitable pain of To the New Owners. Anyone who has lived in a house and had to leave it will laugh and be moved by this brilliantly written book.”Anita Shreve, author of The Stars Are Fire