Photo of Linda Tuero

Photo of Linda Tuero

Linda Tuero (NC ’71, ’02, *04)

A childhood tennis prodigy turned international champion, Linda Tuero is the first woman to receive an athletic scholarship from Tulane University, and the first woman to play on a varsity sports team at the institution.

A native Louisianian, Tuero began playing tennis at the age of ten, winning her first tournament, the New Orleans City Championships sponsored by New Orleans Recreational Department, within six months. She started taking lessons from Emmett Paré, the men’s tennis coach at Tulane and went on to win six junior national titles in singles and doubles, as well as the Girl’s National Interscholastic Championship, by the time she graduated from St. Martin’s Episcopal School in 1968.

When Tuero was awarded her athletic scholarship, Tulane did not have a women’s varsity tennis team, so Linda played on the men’s varsity tennis team. She did not travel with the team to away matches, and she only played when both the visiting coach and player who she would be matched against consented. Not all schools agreed to play against a woman, especially when her reputation for defeating visiting male players became widely known. Tuero’s limited schedule netted a collegiate record of 8-1 over a three-year period.

Tuero was allowed to play on the women’s professional tennis circuit but maintain her amateur status while studying at Newcomb College, and during those years, she won 3 amateur tennis championships: 1969 US Amateur Championship, 1970 US Amateur Championship, and the 1970 US Open Clay Court Championship, with a semi-final victory over Nancy Richey, then the #1 clay court woman player in the world. In 1969, she was ranked the #1 woman in the world under the age of 21. Linda graduated from Newcomb cum laude in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and began her professional tennis career.

In 1972, her first year on the professional tour, Tuero won the Italian Open Singles title in Rome and the first International Tournament of Madrid (Madrid Open), and was a semi-finalist in the Canadian Open, WTA German Open, the US Open Clay Courts, and the Western and Southern Open. Representing the United States, Linda played on the Wightman Cup and Federation Cup Teams in 1972 and 1973, serving as Federation Cup Captain in 1973. Other tennis highlights include reaching the third round of the US Open in 1968 and 1971, the quarterfinals in the French Open, as well as the third round at Wimbledon in 1971, and reaching the No. 10 world ranking for women in 1972. After finishing out her Fed and Wightman Cup responsibilities in 1973, Tuero retired from the professional circuit. Since her retirement, she has been inducted into the Tulane Athletics Hall of Fame (1983), the Louisiana Tennis Hall of Fame (1985), the United States Tennis Association Southern Tennis Hall of Fame (1995), the St. Martin’s Episcopal Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame (2010), and most recently, the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame (2015).

Linda returned to Tulane in 2000 to earn a second bachelor’s degree (2002) and a master’s degree (2004) in anthropology, specializing in paleoanthropology. She applied this knowledge when she went to Africa to excavate with Rutgers University in northern Kenya, where the earliest hominid discoveries have been made.