Born Anna Margarethe Bjurstedt Mallory on March 6, 1884, Molla was the daughter of an Army officer who shot to tennis fame after winning her first match against Lenglen in the second round of the US Open championship held in Forest Hills. She was born in Oslo, Norway and started to play tennis there. She moved to the US in 1915 as Molla Bjurstedt, winning the US championships right after getting off the boat. She won the US championships from 1915 to 1918, and from 1920 to 1922. She won again in 1926 at the age of 42.
Molla was known for her powerful baseline game, a technique borne out of her belief that women could not sustain a volleying attack in a drawn-out match. She dished out powerful forehand attacks that left opponents reeling coupled by an equally powerful defense. Opponents would be left huffing and puffing from running from corner to corner to follow Molla’s corner-to-corner drives. She was also known for the quick returns on her passing shots.
Prior to setting foot in America, Molla had already won a bronze in singles for her country at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics and had achieved a sort of star athlete status in her homeland. She was a virtual unknown in the US upon her arrival, working as a masseuse in between trainings for the US championships. She soon entered the US Indoor championships as an unknown but took everyone by surprise when she defeated defending champ Marie Wagner with a score of 6-4, 6-4.
Molla bade goodbye to the US championships in 1929 at the age of 45. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1958 and died a year later on November 22, 1959 in Stockholm, Sweden.