Angelica Rozeanu, the owner of more titles at a World Championships than any other player (Photo: courtesy of Table Tennis Legends)
by Ian Marshall, Editor
Players confined to barracks, not able to enter the training hall; how long will the situation last? At the moment we simply do not know the answer; perhaps three months, daily we scan the internet for the latest on COVID-19.
In a totally different era, a totally different situation, for the most successful female player of all time, she wondered if there would ever be an end to the isolation; there was but it took almost five years!
Accepted that in her day, the World Championships were held on an annual basis, not biennial as from 1957; nevertheless the record of Romania’s Angelica Rozeanu stands alone.
She won a total of 30 medals at World Championships, including the women’s singles title on six consecutive occasions from 1950 in Budapest to 1955 in Utrecht.
It is even more remarkable when you consider the fact that from 1940 to early in 1945 she was banned from sports halls in Romania; she could not practise. The reason was anti-semitism; she was jewish.
Competing under her maiden name, Angelica Adelstein, at the 1937 World Championships in the Austrian spa town of Baden bei Wien, she won her first medal at the prestigious tournament; she partnered compatriot Geza Eros to mixed doubles bronze, at the quarter-final stage the pair narrowly beating Hungary’s Istvan Boros and Ida Ferenczy in five games.
Earlier in the second round of the women’s singles event, she had lost to Austria’s Trude Pritzi in a marathon five games encounter. She did not play in London in 1938 but competed in Cairo in 1939, at the semi-final stage losing to Czechoslovakia’s Vlasta Depetrisova by the minimal two point margin in the decider.
One year later in 1940 she won the women’s singles title at the Romanian Open, a career was ready to blossom but came the almost five year break.
“In 1945 I had to start from scratch. I had almost forgotten how to play; it took me several months to regain any form.” Angelica Rozeanu
The war over, in 1948 she married and competed in the World Championships in London; at the semi-final stage of the women’s singles event, she lost in five games to Hungary’s Gizi Farkas on the “time limit” rule.
Two years later in Budapest she returned, she beat Gizi Farkas in the women’s singles final, in three straight games; it was the start of six in a row and if you had told anyone in 1955 that until the present day she would be the last non-Asian player to win the women’s singles title at a World Championships, nobody would have believed you!
Hardships at the moment for the modern day player but when compared with Angelica Rozeanu, they pale into insignificance; because of her faith she was ridiculed, humiliated and ostracized.
She set records that will surely never be matched; she returned stronger. She was in a situation where she had no idea if she would ever play again; at least for the modern day player there is light at the end of the tunnel.