Judy Hashman nee Devlin.
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Judy Hashman was born in Canada, the daughter of the Irishman Frank Devlin one of badminton’s first legends. Frank won an incredible 18 All-England titles in just nine years, between 1922 and 1931- a truly mind-boggling feet which may never be surpassed. He probably never imagined how close his daughter would get to beating the number of titles he won.
Judy’s All England career began in 1954, at the age of just 18 years and 4 mouths. In this, her first appearance at the All England, the young Devlin won the women’s singles making her the youngest All-England champion ever. Partnered with her sister Sue aged 20 (later Peard), she won the woman’s doubles as well, this was the first of their six doubles titles. In the space of just three weeks, Judy won two US Open, two All England and three US junior national titles – as well as becoming a US lacrosse international.
In 1955 and 1956 she lost in the Woman’s Singles final of the All-England to the Texan Margaret Varner. She would gain revenge for these defeats however, securing consecutive trophies, vanquishin Varner in both finals in ’57 & 58.
1959 saw Varner too busy playing tennis and squash for the USA to compete at the All-England, but Judy failed to take advantage – she lost to the 19-year-old English girl, Heather Ward (later Nielson).
1960 Judy and Sue Devlin
Photo:- Graham Habbin.
Judy Hashman embarked on an incredible spell of dominance. From 1960 to 1964 she would win five consecutive women’s singles competitions, she moved head and shoulders above the competition. In 1965, this incredible run was broken; this was due, mainly, to the fact that she had a baby in the January. By the time March came around, she still achieved a highly credible Fourth Round finish- once again demonstrating her exceptional abilities.
Judy was back in the swings of things in 1966 and carried her number one seeding through to win the final from Miss Imre Rietvld.
Photo:- Graham Habbin.
Earlier, Miss Takagi had beaten Judy in the Uber Cup in New Zealand and pressure had mounted for the great star to bail out from the All-England while still at the top. But Hashman chose to defend her title and in due course, Judy would face Takagi in the Final.
Judy managed to get back from one-game-to-love deficit and levelled to one game all, but the young Japanese girl’s shots were deceptive and Judy was on the verge of exhaustion. When the Japanese girl led by 5-1 in the third it looked like Judy’s advisers were going to be proved right, but with her intense concentration and the will-to-win, she fought back to save a match point, eventually snatching a 12-10 win and claimed the title for the 10th time.
Never before nor after did she play so well for so long, it is a tribute to her that she would climax a career with such a class performance. After the final, Judy pulled the curtain down on her glittering singles career- retiring at the top, as she had wanted.
Judy appeared in every All-England woman’s singles final between 1954 and 1967, apart from her break in 1965 following childbirth. This is a truly incredible, and surely places her near the top of the pantheon of great champions this sport has created.
Although she did not quite topple her father’s record, to think that the same family produce such a dynasty is amazing. A true legend of the All-England.