Marjory Gengler Smith ’73 is a Princetonian of “firsts.” A member of the University’s first four-year coeducational class, she was the first woman to earn a white “P” sweater and be featured on the cover of PAW (May 1, 1973) as “Princeton’s Best Athlete.” Smith captained Princeton’s first undefeated women’s tennis team and never lost a set while playing for the University.
Aside from competing at Wimbledon while still an undergraduate, Smith says the most memorable match during her Princeton years is the one she lost on campus. In a takeoff on the famous 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, she took on No. 1 men’s junior-varsity player Jeffrey Lewis-Oakes ’75, with her boyfriend, top-ranked pro tennis player Stan Smith, serving as referee.
“I lost the match ... and I certainly wasn’t crushed or anything. Stan was the celebrity there,” she says.
The pair married in 1974 and, for the next five years, traveled 45 weeks per year while Stan Smith pursued his tennis career. “Stan jokes that I joined the men’s circuit,” she says.
Smith subsequently traded in her racquet for a new love — children. While her husband developed the Smith Stearns Tennis Academy in Hilton Head, S.C., she home-schooled their four kids. Now that their children are grown, Smith, who was named to the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2004, is tutoring and serving on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island.“This is my passion right now,” she says.