Sarah Hammond Palfrey Danzig (née Palfrey; September 18, 1912 – February 27, 1996) was an American tennis player whose career spanned two decades from the late 1920s until the late 1940s. She won the singles title at the U.S. Championships in 1941 and 1945.
Palfrey twice won the singles title at the U.S. Championships, the second time in 1945 at the age of 32. She was only the second mother to have won the title, with Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman being the first. Palfrey won the 1945 title after being down 4–3 in the third set to Pauline Betz, with Betz serving. Betz was the three-time defending champion, and Palfrey had defeated her in the 1941 and 1945 finals.
Palfrey is one of the few women, if not the sole woman, to appear on a top-level male championship honor roll. Because of the manpower crisis during World War II, she and second husband Elwood Cooke were permitted in 1945 to enter the men's doubles of the Tri-State Championships in Cincinnati. They reached the final, losing to Hal Surface and Bill Talbert.
Palfrey won 16 Grand Slam championships in women's doubles (11) and mixed doubles (5). She teamed with Betty Nuthall to win the 1930 U.S. Championships and with Helen Jacobs to win the 1932, 1934, and 1935 championships. Palfrey and Alice Marble won the U.S. Championships from 1937 to 1940. At Wimbledon, Palfrey and Marble won the 1938 and 1939 women's doubles championship. Palfrey's final U.S. women's doubles championship was in 1941 with Margaret Osborne. In mixed doubles, Palfrey teamed with four different partners to win the U.S. Championships: Fred Perry (1932), Enrique Maier (1935), Don Budge (1937), and Jack Kramer (1941). Palfrey also won the mixed doubles title at the 1939 French Championships, teaming with her future husband Elwood Cooke. Palfrey and Marble were undefeated in doubles for four years (1937–40).
In 1947, Palfrey turned professional and went on a "barnstorming" tour of one-night stands with Betz, who had been stripped of her amateur status by the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) for merely inquiring about the possibility of creating a tour for professionals. They earned about US$10,000 each.
According to A. Wallis Myers and John Olliff of The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Palfrey was ranked in the World Top Ten 1933–36 and 1938–39 (no rankings issued 1940–45), reaching a career high in those rankings of World No. 4 in 1934. Palfrey was included in the year-end Top Ten rankings issued by the USLTA 1929–31, 1933–41, and 1945. She was the top-ranked U.S. player in 1941 and 1945.
Palfrey and Marble lobbied the USLTA to remove the color bar and allow Althea Gibson to play at heretofore whites-only tournaments beginning in 1950. "She [Palfrey] was calmly persuasive, had clout as an ex-champ, and got Althea into the U.S. Championships in 1950," said Gladys Heldman, founder of the Women's Professional Tennis Tour.
Palfrey once said, "Tennis is the best game there is. It combines mental and physical qualities and is the sport for a lifetime. And there are many living examples at the age of 80 to prove it. So it is enough for us to know that tennis will remain, under whatever conditions, whether amateur or pro, the finest game there is for us, for our children, and our children's children."
Palfrey was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1963.
She was married three times; to Marshal Fabyan, Elwood Cooke, and Jerome Alan Danzig and had two children. She married Fabyan on October 6, 1934, but divorced him in Reno, Nevada on July 20, 1940. She married Cooke on October 2, 1940, and had a daughter with him who was born on December 22, 1942. She divorced him on April 29, 1949, on grounds of cruelty. She married Danzig on April 27, 1951, and remained married to him until her death of lung cancer in 1996. She had a son with Danzig who was born December 19, 1952.
Her brother, John Palfrey, also an excellent tennis player and an expert on atomic energy, married Belle "Clochette" Roosevelt Palfrey, a granddaughter of Theodore Roosevelt and a daughter of Kermit Roosevelt. She also had four sisters, who were all fine tennis players.
|Runner-up||1934||U.S. Championships||Grass||Helen Jacobs||1–6, 4–6|
|Runner-up||1935||U.S. Championships||Grass||Helen Jacobs||2–6, 4–6|
|Winner||1941||U.S. Championships||Grass||Pauline Betz||7–5, 6–2|
|Winner||1945||U.S. Championships||Grass||Pauline Betz||3–6, 8–6, 6–4|
|Winner||1930||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Betty Nuthall|| Edith Cross
Anna McCune Harper
|3–6, 6–3, 7–5|
|Winner||1932||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Helen Jacobs|| Alice Marble
|Runner-up||1934||French Championships||Clay||Helen Jacobs|| Simonne Mathieu
|6–3, 4–6, 2–6|
|Winner||1934||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Helen Jacobs|| Carolin Babcock
|4–6, 6–3, 6–4|
|Winner||1935||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Helen Jacobs|| Carolin Babcock
|Runner-up||1936||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Helen Jacobs|| Freda James
|Runner-up||1936||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Helen Jacobs|| Marjorie Gladman Van Ryn
|7–9, 6–2, 4–6|
|Winner||1937||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Alice Marble|| Marjorie Gladman Van Ryn
|Winner||1938||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Alice Marble|| Simonne Mathieu
|Winner||1938||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Alice Marble|| Simonne Mathieu
|6–8, 6–4, 6–3|
|Winner||1939||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Alice Marble|| Helen Jacobs
|Winner||1939||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Alice Marble|| Kay Stammers
|Winner||1940||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Alice Marble|| Dorothy Bundy
Marjorie Gladman Van Ryn
|Winner||1941||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Margaret Osborne|| Dorothy Bundy
|3–6, 6–1, 6–4|
|Winner||1932||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Fred Perry|| Helen Jacobs
|Runner-up||1933||U.S. National Championships||Grass||George Lott|| Elizabeth Ryan
|Winner||1935||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Enrique Maier|| Kay Stammers
|6–4, 4–6, 6–3|
|Runner-up||1936||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Don Budge|| Dorothy Round
|9–7, 5–7, 4–6|
|Runner-up||1936||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Don Budge|| Alice Marble
|Winner||1937||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Don Budge|| Sylvie Henrotin
|6–2, 8–10, 6–0|
|Runner-up||1938||Wimbledon Championships||Grass||Henner Henkel|| Alice Marble
|Winner||1939||French Championships||Clay||Elwood Cooke|| Simonne Mathieu
|4–6, 6–1, 7–5|
|Runner-up||1939||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Elwood Cooke|| Alice Marble
|Winner||1941||U.S. National Championships||Grass||Jack Kramer|| Pauline Betz
|4–6, 6–4, 6–4|
|Australian Championships||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||A||NH||NH||NH||NH||NH||0 / 0|
|French Championships||A||A||A||A||A||A||3R||A||A||A||A||QF||NH||R||R||R||R||A||0 / 2|
|Wimbledon||A||A||2R||A||4R||A||QF||A||2R||A||QF||SF||NH||NH||NH||NH||NH||NH||0 / 6|
|U.S. Championships||1R||3R||3R||3R||2R||QF||F||F||1R||1R||SF||QF||3R||W||A||QF||A||W||2 / 16|
|SR||0 / 1||0 / 1||0 / 2||0 / 1||0 / 2||0 / 1||0 / 3||0 / 1||0 / 2||0 / 1||0 / 2||0 / 3||0 / 1||1 / 1||0 / 0||0 / 1||0 / 0||1 / 1||2 / 24|
R = tournament restricted to French nationals and held under German occupation.
SR = the ratio of the number of Grand Slam singles tournaments won to the number of those tournaments played.