Edythe McGoldrick, a trail-blazer for women’s tennis, dies

Edythe McGoldrick, a trail-blazer for women’s tennis in the United States, has died peacefully in her sleep on 1 June, aged 87.

Edy’s Virginia Slims of Boston and later New England was a flagship event on the women’s tour and she represented all the tournaments on the Tennis Council, working with the players to establish the rule book and to secure sponsors. Jane Brown Grimes, former USTA President

The daughter of a renowned tennis family, the Sullivans of Massachusetts, McGoldrick ranked as high as No 7 among US juniors and won numerous titles including the US National Juniors Indoor Singles Championship in 1950.

It was off the court, however, where she made her mark, helping to grow and professionalise the business of tennis over the decades.

The first woman to sit on the New England USLTA Executive Committee, McGoldrick served two years as the body’s Executive Director before her appointment as Director of Women’s Tennis for the United States Lawn Tennis Association, now known as the USTA, from 1970-76.

She started Virginia Slims of New England in 1970 and was also the promoter and director of the Boston, Virginia Slims Tournament.

In 1973, she was non-playing captain of the victorious US Wightman Cup team and, that same year, she was at the heart of a negotiated rapprochement between the USLTA and the Virginia Slims Circuit, which calmed the fraught tennis politics of the time.

The oldest of five children, Edy grew up in Belmont, MA, and graduated from Belmont High School in 1949 and received her Bachelor’s degree from Framingham State University in 1953.

In 1965, the USLTA selected Edy’s family, the John F. Sullivan clan, for its annual National Tennis Family of the Year award.

In 1977 McGoldrick became Vice President of Capital Sports and played a central role in the marketing not just of the women’s tennis tour and the US Open, but also the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid.

Later, she founded Six Love Promotions, a sports marketing firm whose remit included promoting the Virginia Slims World Series Tour – the major component of the WTA calendar for several years during the 1980s.

“Edy’s Virginia Slims of Boston and later New England was a flagship event on the women’s tour and she represented all the tournaments on the Tennis Council, working with the players to establish the rule book and to secure sponsors,” recalled Jane Brown Grimes, a former president of the USTA and member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

“She is one of the reasons for the success of women’s tennis today.”

Billie Jean King, who won mixed doubles tournaments with McGoldrick’s brother Paul Sullivan in the 1960s, said: “Edy McGoldrick was instrumental in providing playing opportunities for many generations of women tennis players.

“Her commitment to our sport was unwavering and her contributions were legendary,” said King.

During her lifetime, Edy’s impact on tennis was recognised with honours including the USTA Service Bowl in 1973, the Peachy Kellmeyer WTA Player Service Award in 1979, and induction into the USTA Tennis Hall of Fame New England in 1994.

Steve Simon, Chairman and CEO of the WTA, commented: “Edy McGoldrick played a vital role in helping unite women’s tennis, and as an administrator and tournament director she made a lasting contribution to the WTA Tour’s evolution as a forward-thinking, professional entity.

“The WTA family would like to remember and celebrate the significant dedication Edy brought for the greater good of our sport, and our condolences go to her loved ones as well as the many players and colleagues who remember her so fondly.”

“Edy was a pioneer for women’s tennis,” said Chris Evert. “She was smart as a whip and had a clear vision for women in tennis. She was my friend. From her, I learned some valuable life lessons. I learned you could be a great mother, a successful businesswoman, and a caring human being all at the same time. I will miss her. Rest in Peace, Edy.”

Pam Shriver added: “Edy, starting in the 1970s, was part of a small, devoted group of investors and tournament directors with the intelligence to know women’s tennis was becoming the leading professional sport worldwide for women. Her leadership and risks to help build women’s pro tennis will always be remembered. Thank you Edy!”

Beloved wife of the late David M. McGoldrick, MD, Edy McGoldrick was a mother of six and is also survived by 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, as well as her brother, Paul.



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