Gladys Medalie Heldman was born on May 13, 1922, in New York City. Phi Beta Kappa and first in her class at Stanford University (BA 1942), with a masters degree at the University of California Berkeley (1943), Heldman was, herself, a promising tennis star. She ranked No. 1 in the State of Texas and No. 2 in the Southwest in 1954, and that same year played in the early rounds at Wimbledon.
Gladys Heldman was a prime mover in the stimulation and development of American tennis through the pages of World Tennis Magazine, which she founded and served as editor and publisher. The magazine first appeared in 1953, having been published originally for five years under the name Houston Tennis. (She sold the magazine to CBS Publications in 1972.)
For a number of years, Heldman has fought to end the disparity between men's and women's tennis earnings, through her own sponsorship of tours. Heldman was a key organizer of the Virginia Slims Tennis Tour, the first all women’s tennis circuit. Rushing in “where wise men feared to tread,” Heldman underwrote the 1959 National (U.S.) Indoor Championships when the United States Lawn Tennis Association decided that such an undertaking for the Association was financially unsound.
Heldman is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame as well as the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
She died in 2003.
Sources: “Gladys Heldman." International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Picture courtesy of: International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame