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Madeleine Blais in Person

Join us in person on Tuesday, September 26 at 7 PM as Madeleine Blais presents her new book, Queen of the Court: The Many Lives of Tennis Legend Alice Marble. She will be joined in conversation by Christopher Benfey.

About the Book

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

In August 1939, Alice Marble graced the cover of Life magazine, photographed by the famed Alfred Eisenstaedt. She was a glamorous worldwide celebrity, having that year won singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles tennis titles at both Wimbledon and the US Open, then an unprecedented feat. Yet today one of America's greatest female athletes and most charismatic characters is largely forgotten. Queen of the Court 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 as a performer in the Sert Room of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York to rave reviews. World War II derailed her amateur tennis career, but her life off the court was, if anything, even more eventful. She wrote a series of short books about famous women. She turned professional and joined a pro tour during the War, entertaining and inspiring soldiers and civilians alike. Ever glamorous and connected, she had a part in the 1952 Tracy and Hepburn movie Pat and Mike, and she played tennis with the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich, and her great friends, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. However, perhaps her greatest legacy lies in her successful efforts, working largely alone, to persuade the all-white US Lawn Tennis Association to change its policy and allow African American star Althea Gibson to compete for the US championship in 1950, thereby breaking tennis's color barrier. In two memoirs, Marble also showed herself to be an at-times unreliable narrator of her own life, which Madeleine Blais navigates skillfully, especially Marble's dramatic claims of having been a spy during World War II. In Queen of the Court, the author of the bestselling In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle recaptures a glittering life story.

About the Author

MADELEINE BLAIS was a reporter for the Miami Herald for years and won a Pulitzer Prize before joining the faculty of the School of Journalism at the University of Massachusetts. She is the author of To the New Owners, In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle, Uphill Walkers, and The Heart is an Instrument, a collection of her journalism. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. 

About Christopher Benfey

CHRISTOPHER BENFEY is Mellon Professor of English Emeritus at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of five books about the American Gilded Age including A Summer of Hummingbirds and If: The Untold Story of Kipling's American Years. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. 


This event is free and open to the public, but we ask that you register on Eventbrite at the link below

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Event date: 
Tuesday, September 26, 2023 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
9 College St
South Hadley, MA 01075
Queen of the Court: The Many Lives of Tennis Legend Alice Marble By Madeleine Blais Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802128324
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - August 15th, 2023

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