Guest essay, by John Sarkis
July 7, 1962 – 56 years-ago today, Karen Hantze Susman, a teenaged bride from St. Louis, won the Women’s Singles Championship at Wimbledon. She had also won the doubles title at that year’s Wimbledon, along with her partner, 17-year-old Billie Jean Moffitt. A year earlier, they had become the youngest team to ever win the women’s doubles championship. Moffitt would (of course) become better known by her married name, Billy Jean King.
Karen Hantze, a native of San Diego and just eighteen years-old, moved to St Louis, the hometown of her husband, Rod, who had attended Ladue’s Horton Watkins High School before becoming a professional tennis player. Marrying against the advice of her family and friends, she and Rod just celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary at their home in suburban San Diego.
Karen would win three Grand Slam Doubles titles in her short career, but gave up playing competitively because there wasn’t enough money in women’s tennis to earn a living at that time.
Wimbledon didn’t award prize money until 1968. The winner of this year’s Wimbledon Women’s Championship, which is currently underway, will take home 2.25 Million British Pounds, the equivalent of just under $3 Million. Each of the Doubles Tournament winners this year will win 450,000 Pounds, or about $600,000.
[editor’s note: gently edited essay by John Sarkis, a Saint Louis native and retiree, who posts and writes regularly as a hobby about St Louis history]