Partner Marie Gendron

Queer Places:
Sears Family Crypt, Brookline, Massachusetts, Stati Uniti

Eleonora Randolph Sears (September 28, 1881 – March 16, 1968) was an American tennis champion of the 1910s. In addition, she was a champion squash player, and prominent in other sports; she is considered one of the leading all-round women athletes of the first half of the 20th century.[1]

Sears was the daughter of Boston businessman Frederick Richard Sears, a cousin of Henry Cabot Lodge, and a great-granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson.[2] Sears' father was also known for playing the first tennis game in the United States, his opponent being his cousin James Dwight who brought the game from Europe.[3]

Sears was raised in wealth and privilege. She was acquainted with Corinne Douglass Robinson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt, all related to President Theodore Roosevelt. She played tennis at a competition organized by Ava Lowle Willing, the wife of John Jacob Astor IV, and she attended the wedding of tennis champion Robert Wrenn. For a while she dated Harold Stirling Vanderbilt, the sporty scion of the Vanderbilt fortune.[4]

Sears won the women's doubles at the US Women's National Championship four times, including three consecutively (1915–1917). In singles, she was a finalist in 1912, where she was beaten in straight sets by Mary Kendall Browne. She teamed with Willis E. Davis to take the national mixed doubles championship in 1916.[5]

She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1968, joining her cousin Richard (inducted 1955).

Eleonora Sears rode horses competitively and was elected to the US Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1992. She also owned and raced Thoroughbred horses.[6] She was the first woman to play polo on a men’s team.[1]

Sears was the first female national squash champion, a founder of the Women’s Squash Racquets Association, and coach of the U.S. Women’s International Squash Team. [1]

She gained media attention for her long distance walks and hikes. As well, she was one of the first American women to drive an automobile and fly a plane. [1] Her habit of wearing trousers, both when competing in sports and in public, was criticized in media and social circles. [7]

Later in life she lived in Florida with Marie V. Gendron (July 22, 1903 – January 26, 2004), nickname madame, who, at Sears' death, inherited her whole estate. She retained half of it, including Sears' house in Florida, jewelry and works of arts, and gave the rest to six Massachusetts hospitals.[8]


  1. Peggy Miller Franck (June 22, 2012). "The Mother of Title IX: Trailblazing Athlete Eleonora Sears". The Daily Beast.
  2. "Six Hospitals Contest Will of Eleanora Sears". Palm Beach Daily News. February 22, 1969. Retrieved June 22, 2012 – via Google News Archive.
  3. Ohnsorg, Roger W. (2011). Robert Lindley Murray: The Reluctant U.S. Tennis Champion. Trafford Publishing. p. 19. ISBN 9781426945137.
  4. Ohnsborg 2011, p. 309.
  5. Ohnsborg 2011, p. 292.
  6. Show Jumping Hall of Fame
  7. "Will Eleanora Sears Stop Wearing Em Now?: Fashionable Miss Sears Requested by the "Mothers" of Burlingame to Cover". Atlanta Constitution. May 26, 1912. pp. C12D.
  8. "Friend and 6 Hospitals Share The Estate of Eleanora Sears". The New York Times. 1970. Retrieved 22 September 2017.