Jane Brown Grimes, a rare female force in tennis, dies at age 80

Jane brown grimes , who, as one of the few female tennis executives in her day, modernized the International Tennis Hall of Fame, headed...


Jane brown grimes, who, as one of the few female tennis executives in her day, modernized the International Tennis Hall of Fame, headed the women’s tennis regulatory body and served as president of the United States Tennis Association, died on November 2 at her Manhattan home. She was 80 years old.

The cause was cancer, said her daughter, Serena Larson.

“Jane did it all behind the scenes”, Chris Evert, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, said in an interview. “She didn’t need any attention and went about her work quietly. Not many tennis players know what she did because she was under the radar. “

In 1989, Ms Brown Grimes, as Executive Director of the Women’s International Professional Tennis Council, which governed women’s tennis, led talks that led to a change in title sponsorship of the Women’s Tour – from Virginia Slims, a brand of cigarettes marketed for women, at Kraft General Foods. Both were owned by Philip Morris (now the Altria Group).

Anti-tobacco activists, as well as some players, had for years demanded that women’s tennis shift from its sponsorship of tobacco, the financial backbone of the tour since the early 1970s, to one that promotes a way of life. healthier.

“Jane was a very strategic and intelligent leader, and she was clear that the board needed to move away from tobacco,” said Anne Worcester, who was director of global operations for the Virginia Slims series and succeeded Ms. Brown. Grimes as head of the council. in 1991.

Pam shriver, who has won 132 titles during her career, admitted in an interview that “there was no excuse for Virginia Slims to be a sponsor”. But, she added, “Just when Jane was in a key position to make a change, she made it happen.”

Jane Trowbridge Gillespie was born January 20, 1941 in Freeport, NY, Long Island. His father, Samuel Hazard Gillespie, was a lawyer who served as the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1959 to 1961. Her mother, Ruth (Reed) Gillespie, was the chief librarian of Collegiate School in Manhattan.

As a youth, Jane played on her grandparents’ clay tennis court on Long Island and regularly attended the United States National Championships in Forest Hills, Queens – the precursor to the US Open – with her family. She reveled in looking at stars like Althea Gibson, Margaret Court, Tony trabert and Maureen Connolly.

“They were my movie stars,” she told the Wilmington, Del. News Journal in 2009. “They were my idols.”

She studied history at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and obtained a bachelor’s degree in 1962. After working as a fact-checker for Life magazine and then for a documentary filmmaker, she joined the Manhattan office of International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1977.

First an event planner, she became a fundraiser before becoming Executive Director of the Hall of Fame in 1981, a position she held until 1986. Working primarily from her Manhattan office, she helped raise funds. funds to rehabilitate the Hall buildings in Newport, RI, and was the director of tournaments held on his grounds.

After leaving to join the Women’s Tennis Council, Ms. Brown Grimes returned to the Hall as President in 1991 and remained until 2000, overseeing the acquisition of tennis memorabilia essential to the hall’s historic mission and continued renovations.

She was elected to the Board of Directors of the United States Tennis Association in 2001, then rose through the ranks to become President and Volunteer President in 2007. The second woman to hold this position, she served until 2008 During her two-year tenure, she was a particular advocate for youth programs and was involved in the USTA’s acquisition of the Western & Southern Open.

“Jane was one of the few who paved the way for other women to take on leadership roles in tennis,” Ms. Worcester said.

Ms. Brown Grimes was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.

Besides her daughter, she is survived by her sons, Jim Schwarz and Ames Brown; his brother, Sam Gillespie; and five grandchildren. Her marriage to Marshall Schwarz ended in divorce and her marriages to Ames Brown and Charles Grimes ended in their death.

Always curious, Mrs. Brown Grimes continued her studies until her final years. She received an MBA from Baruch College in Manhattan in 2012, then used her knowledge of tennis to earn a Masters in International Relations from Cambridge University in 2015.

His thesis focused on the 1986 Federation Cup tournament in Prague, which marked The return of Martina Navratilova to her native land for the first time since his defection to the United States in 1975 from what was then Czechoslovakia. Mrs. Brown Grimes had attended the tournament.

“When it was over and the US had won, Martina got a big microphone and started her speech in English, but in about 10 seconds she switched to Czech and the place went crazy,” he said. Ms. Brown Grimes said. in an interview with Tennis.com’s Steve Flink this year. “Her mother was setting in front of me, and downstairs, and she was in tears.”

By her death, Ms Brown Grimes had almost completed her history thesis at Cambridge – on women’s tennis at the time of the Open, after tournaments were opened to professionals and not just amateurs in 1968.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Jane Brown Grimes, a rare female force in tennis, dies at age 80
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