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Latinx Heritage Month

On this day in Latinx history: Anita Lizana wins Pacific Coast tennis championship

The first Latin American to own the World No. 1 ranking in women’s tennis rolls in straight sets

Chile’s Anita Lizana encountered little resistance leading up to the semifinals of the Pacific Coast tennis championship.

She dispatched San Francisco’s Margaret Stein, 6-0, 6-1, and England’s Joan Ingram, 6-3, 6-4, in the early rounds. Then she had to overcome England’s Mary Hardwick in a three-set semifinal. Lizana lost the opening set, 2-6, but bounced back to win the second and third, 6-1, 6-1, to advance to the championship match on Oct. 5, 1937.

Lizana faced off against Margot Lumb of England in the final. The 21-year-old Latin American quickly deposed Lumb, 6-2, 6-2, to win the title in Berkeley, California.

Three weeks earlier, Lizana defeated Poland’s Jadwiga Jędrzejowska, 6-4, 6-2, to capture the U.S. Tennis Championships and become the first person of Latin heritage to win a Grand Slam title. That victory, along with an appearance in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, enabled Lizana to rise to the World No. 1 ranking in women’s singles. She was the first Latin player to hold that distinction as well.

From 1935 to 1937, Lizana won three consecutive Scottish Championships. She also won the event in 1946. The Chilean defeated Hardwick, 6-3, 6-0, in the British Covered Court Championships in 1936.

Lizana retired from Grand Slam tournaments after being eliminated from Wimbledon in the second round in 1946. She died in 1994 at age 78, and her ashes were scattered across Dundee, Scotland, where she resided for much of her life.

Rhiannon Walker is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a drinker of Sassy Cow Creamery chocolate milk, an owner of an extensive Disney VHS collection, and she might have a heart attack if Frank Ocean doesn't drop his second album.