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The Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute is an establishment for brain research at the University of California, Berkeley named after Helen Wills Moody. Helen Wills Moody was a University of California alumna who won 31 Grand Slam titles and two Olympic medals in the sport of tennis. When she died at 92, Wills bestowed 10 million dollars to the University of California, Berkeley. In 1995, the University chose to honor and remember her by naming the Neuroscience Institute after her. The Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute is used by students each day as their mission is to "deepens our understanding of the brain through neurotechnology innovation and original research."


  • Helen Wills Moody, aka "Little Miss Poker Face" with a serious look on her face.
  • University of California, Berkeley: the school that Helen Wills Moody attended
  • Helen Wills Moody, after winning one of her many matches
  • Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute

Helen Wills Moody, originally known as Helen Newington Wills, was born in Centerville, California on October 6th,1905. She learned how to play tennis at a young age by her father, and joined the Berkeley Tennis Club at the age of 14. Even as a young player, Wills was known for taking tennis seriously and remaining intensely dedicated to the game which gave her the nickname "Little Miss Poker Face." Wills often practiced tennis while playing against men, which gave her a more powerful serve and strike against her opponents. Her tough "Poker Face" attitude and frequent practice against men helped her accomplish many victories throughout her career. 

From the year of 1921 to 1932, Wills never lost a set, including wining Wimbledon singles and doubles, French singles and doubles, Olympic mixed and U.S. Mixed. In 1923, she won the U.S. Championship. In the following year, she received Olympic gold in both singles and doubles tennis. In 1927, Wills won her first Wimbledon title, and continued to do so for the next 6 years. Moody won a total of 31 Grand Slam events and played and beat some of the top ranked men of her time, including Italian men. In 1933, Wills lost her first match against Helen Hull Jacobs. Wills and Jacobs had played against each other 10 times before, and on their 11th match against each other, Jacobs won. 

As Helen Wills Moody created a name for herself by having such a successful career, she was challenged to players across the country. In 1926, Wills faced a player from France named Suzanne Lenglen in Cannes. At the time, Lenglen was considered the best female player in the world and Wills was a 20-year-old who had already won three U.S. titles, so the match was called "The Match of the Century". During the match, Wills had an emergency appendectomy forcing her to drop out. Lenglen and Wills never had the opportunity to play again, however, Wills met her first husband, Frederick Moody after the indecent. Moody was featured on the cover of Time Magazine twice in 1926 and in 1929. In her career she won 398 matches and was defeated 35 matches.

Helen Wills Moody was unlike any other athlete of her time. She played aggressively on the court, showed no emotion while doing so, and was immensely successful. Wills was featured on Time Magazine twice, once in July 26, 1926 and also in July 1, 1929. Although most of her time and dedication was put towards tennis, her other passion was art and journalism. She attended University of California, Berkeley where she studied fine arts. Because of her love for education and time spent at the University of California, Berkeley, she gave 10 million dollars to her alma mater after she died. The University was then able to start a Neuroscience PhD Program which opened in the fall of 2001. 

Berkeley Neuroscience. Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. . Accessed November 01, 2018. https://neuroscience.berkeley.edu/about/history/.

Biography. Helen Wills Moody. . Accessed November 01, 2018. https://www.biography.com/people/helen-wills-moody-9412974.

Helen Wills Moody Roark. International Tennis Hall of Fame. . Accessed November 01, 2018. https://www.tennisfame.com/hall-of-famers/inductees/helen-wills-moody-roark.