Merseyside-born, Charlotte ‘Lottie’ Dod, is the youngest ever winner of the Wimbledon Ladies Singles Championship, achieving her triumph in 1887 at the tender age of 15 years and 285 days.
She won the singles title a remarkable five times in total, between the years 1887 and 1893.
About the ladies’ singles there is little to be said – only five entered as against eight last year. Miss Lottie Dod simply “cantered” through the two rounds in which she had to play. In the final round she met Mrs C J Cole, formerly, as Miss Coleridge, well known as a tennis player. In the challenge round she easily vanquished Miss Bingley, who only got two games in the two sets. Miss L Dod is now lady champion of England, of Ireland, of the West of England, and Northern Lady Champion.
Lottie defeated opponent Blanche Bingley Hillyard in the final 6-2, 6-0. It’s interesting that Lottie’s age is not mentioned in the report – perhaps, then as now, it was not unusual for 15-year-olds to play in the tournament, so did not merit any comment.
Six years later, the Edinburgh Evening News reports on Lottie’s fifth and final Wimbledon victory. It describes how Lottie began to play tennis at nine, and competed in her first open meeting at the age of eleven – the Northern Tournament. At this young age she was victorious in the ladies’ doubles with her sister.
The Edinburgh Evening News is more celebratory of Lottie’s first victory in 1887, which it says, ‘came as a great surprise.’ Rather fantastically, Lottie ‘retired’ after her 1888 Wimbledon victory, only to make a reappearance in the 1891 Wimbledon competition, and going on to win three more titles.
Lottie’s talents were not limited to tennis, however. She also played golf, hockey, and curling. Her interests were not limited to these sports, as she ice skated, tobogganed on the famous Cresta Run, went mountaineering, and was a keen archer as well.
By the late nineteenth century, her interest had settled firmly upon golf. In 1904 she was victorious in the Ladies’ Open Championship at Troon, and also won the open meeting at Formby.
An 1904 article in the Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News, entitled ‘The Sportswoman,’ reveals how Lottie only took up golf in 1887, the same year she won Wimbledon. Her chief instructor was her brother, and she played at Hoylake golf course. She began taking golf seriously six years later.
Lottie led a fascinating life and, with Wimbledon taking place at the moment, we felt it was the perfect time to highlight her terrific achievements at Wimbledon. Her sporting life can be traced in the Archive, and to learn more about this amazing woman, just do a Phrase Search on the Advanced Search page for ‘Lottie Dod.’
Read some of the other historical newspaper stories about Wimbledon that we’ve been posting on the blog.