This Week in Universal News: Tennis Legends Wills and Wightman Take on the Boehm Twins, 1931

On July 15th, 1931, legendary tennis players Helen Wills and Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman competed against Hilda and Helen Boehm in the first round of the National Doubles Championship at Longwood Cricket Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. The 17-year-old Boehm twins were junior doubles champions in 1931. Between 1922 and 1938, Helen Wills won 19 of the 24 Grand Slam tournaments she entered (she was runner-up three times and withdrew twice). Wills was dubbed “Little Miss Poker Face” by the press because she showed so little emotion during matches. Her partner, Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman was the dominant women’s tennis player in the United States in the 1910s, having won her first Grand Slam title in 1909. Wightman was vastly influential in the sport, mentoring up and coming players and creating the Wightman Cup, an annual tournament that pitted Great Britain against the United States. The two women partnered to win gold at the 1924 Olympics, the last time the sport made an official appearance until the 1988 games.

From the release sheet:

Brookline, Mass.- “Poker Face” re-enters the game! – Helen Wills Moody teams with Mrs. Wightman to beat Boehm twins, 6-2, 6-1.

Helen Wills and Hazel Wightman take on junior champions Hilda and Helen Boehm in a 1931 doubles tournament.

You may view the complete newsreel, including stories about a deer that eats cigarettes, an uptick in business at a toy factory in Ohio, a transatlantic flight to call attention to the plight of Hungary, and others, here.

About the Universal Newsreel Collection at NARA:

The Universal Newsreel Collection is one of the most used motion picture collections at the National Archives and Records Administration. Universal Newsreels were shown in movie theaters twice a week, from 1929 until 1967, and covered a wide range of American life and history during that time period. Each release usually contained five to seven stories averaging two minutes in length.

In 1974, Universal deeded its edited newsreel and outtake collection to the United States through the National Archives (NARA), and did not place any copyright restrictions on its use (some stories may contain other underlying intellectual property or proprietary use rights).

While Universal disposed of many of the soundtracks, leaving the newsreels incomplete, supplementary material like scripts, shot lists, and event programs can be found in the production files, available for research at Archives II in College Park, Maryland.

Learn more about the Universal Newsreel Collection in this post and in this Prologue article. Watch other Universal Newsreels in our research room, in OPA, and on this playlist.