In the mid-20th century, the Heldmans were tennis royalty. First came Julius, who in the 1930s suffered anti-semitism on the road to becoming a star player. He married the brilliant and dynamic Gladys Heldman, Julie’s mother, who became broadly admired for her unique magazine, World Tennis, and for engineering the women’s tennis revolution.
In the early 1970s, Gladys and Joe Cullman, both Jewish, were central figures in modernizing the game of tennis.
Julie, Driven’s author, was a volatile and gutsy Jewish tennis star who was twice ranked number 5 in the world and is in the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. After retiring, Julie succeeded as a network broadcaster, a lawyer, and a business woman. No one guessed that Julie’s enormous drive was due both to Gladys’s hidden emotional abuse and to Julie’s undiagnosed mental illness. In 2000, at age 54, Julie suffered a breakdown that lasted 15 years.
Driven is an insider’s account of a pivotal time in women’s tennis history; an examination of Gladys’s complex character; and the revealing story of Julie’s interior journey.