The Divine Miss Marble - a fascinating look at a champion tennis player who should not be forgotten.
I asked a group of fellow tennis players, all serious club players, if they had ever heard of Alice Marble (1913-1990). No one had. And that’s a real shame. I’m happy to say I am very familiar with Miss Marble and that made me very interested in reading The Divine Miss Marble.
I knew of her impressive 18 Grand Slam Championships. Five were Singles titles and six were in Women’s Doubles with Sarah Palfrey Cooke (1912-1996), an incredibly lovely woman I got to know a little in the late 1980s. I also knew that Alice Marble advocated for Althea Gibson and helped integrate the sport.
And there’s a lot I didn’t know. Through her mentor Eleanor Tennant, Alice was able to hobnob with the biggest celebrities, business leaders and members of society. But because tennis players at the time were amateurs, they were not compensated so Alice and her fellow champions were not wealthy like today’s athletes. Their affluent lifestyle came from the famous people they were surrounded by. Author Weintraub provides some fun behind the scenes looks at what it was like during this period to be a national hero with fabulous friends. Alice, however, needed to also have a regular office job for some income. Marble’s impressive tennis career was almost cut short by illness. Her eventual recovery was remarkable.
Where the book gets a bit cloudy is with stories about her relationships and her experiences during WWII as a possible spy. Marble had penned two biographies – one came out posthumously. She had written about a marriage which could not be substantiated. Was this fabricated to cover up for an lifestyle which included partners that were both male and female? We’ll never know. And so sad that she could not live a full, open life. And her spy story? Another tale that perhaps never happened. The author worked to uncover the truth.
But what can’t be denied is that Alice Marble was an incredible talent even if she remains a bit of a mystery. Hopefully that fact will be what readers walk away with. And hopefully she will not be forgotten. You don’t have to be a tennis fan to enjoy The Divine Miss Marble but fans will find it worthwhile.
Many thanks to Edelweiss, Dutton Books and author Robert Weintraub for an advance copy.
Rated 3.75 out of 5 stars.
Nonfiction / Biography.
Publication Date: July 14, 2020.
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