Born November 2 1879 in Gold Hill
Died March 14 1965 in Los Angeles
She was a four-time tennis champion at the U.S. National Women’s Championships. At the 1900 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, Jones became the first American woman to earn an Olympic distinction (medals were not awarded until 1904).
Distance and a draw brimming with talented eastern players didn’t deter Marion Jones Farquhar from becoming the first Californian to reach the finals of the U.S. National Women’s Championships in 1898. Even in defeat, she distinguished herself and made a lasting impression on spectators and the rest of the field. Jones lost to Juliette Atkinson in five long sets, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, but must have sensed championship destiny was on her side.
Jones made a return trip to the U.S. Nationals in 1899, and wasted little time in disposing of fellow American Maud Banks, 6-1, 6-1, 7-5. It was the first of two singles titles for the petite 5-foot-2 Jones. She earned the 1902 championship, when leading Elisabeth Moore, 6-1, 1-0, Moore fainted and retired from the match. It provided some semblance of revenge for Jones, as Moore had defeated her the previous year in an all-comers match, 4-6, 1-6, 9-7, 9-7, 6-3. Moore remained Jones’s main rival during her brief time playing at the U.S. Championships. She captured the 1903 title over Jones, 7-5, 8-6.
Jones didn’t walk away from the U.S. Championships with just a couple of singles trophies. She won the Women’s Doubles Championship in 1902, teaming with Atkinson to defeat Maud Banks and Nona Closterman, 6-2, 7-5. She also claimed a Mixed Doubles Championship in 1901 when she and Raymond D. Little ousted Myrtle McAteer and Dr. Clyde Stevens, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.
In 1900, Jones became the first non-British woman to compete at Wimbledon, reaching the quarterfinals, losing to Ellen Evered, 7-5, 6-2.
At the 1900 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, Jones became the first American woman to earn an Olympic distinction (medals were not awarded until 1904). She lost in the semifinals to champion Charlotte Cooper of Great Britain, and had the same results in mixed doubles playing alongside Brit Laurie Doherty.
Jones’s family was from Nevada, where her father, John Percival Jones, was a five-time U.S. Senator and the co-founder of the city of Santa Monica, California. Her marriage to Robert Farquhar ended in divorce, and from 1920 to 1961 Jones lived in New York’s Greenwich Village, where she was well known as a violinist and voice coach. She also translated opera librettos and for a brief time was head of the New York Chamber Opera. In 1961 she moved to Los Angeles, where she lived until her death.