Lottie Dodd... the Wirral wonder
A true superstar whose exploits have almost been forgotten

Double Olympic champion Kelly Holmes was recently voted as the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year for 2004.

But if Lottie Dodd had been around there might have been a different outcome.

Lottie who? You may well ask. Lottie Dodd was the Wirral Wonder, a superstar of the late 1880s/early 1900s whose exploits have faded into obscurity. She was the first ever teenage tennis prodigy, five times Wimbledon champion, Olympic archery medallist, British golf champion and a hockey international.

Charlotte (Lottie) Dodd was undoubtedly the greatest sportswoman of her day. Born in 1871, the youngest child of a wealthy cotton broker, she spent the first thirty years of her life at her parents' home, Edgeworth, in Bebington, Wirral.

Here on the family's own courts she honed her tennis skills and at the Waterloo Tournament of 1885 she son the ladies' singles, the ladies' doubles (with her sister Ann) and the mixed doubles. Soon she was dubbed the 'Little Wonder' and in 1887, at the age of 15 years ten months (still a record) she won Wimbledon by defeating the reigning champion, Blanche Bingley. She went on to win four more championships before 'retiring' in her early twenties in order to test her versatility in other sports.

In 1897 she helped form a women's hockey club at Spital and within two years was captaining Cheshire. Next it was England and the magazine, The Gentlewoman, commented: "Although Miss Dodd is somewhat behind the others in the matter of pace, she is surprisingly quick and powerful in her strokes and exceedingly tricky in dribbling and passing."

And then it was golf. She learned to play on the Royal Liverpool course at Hoylake and by 1899 she was playing regularly for England. However, few considered her a potential winner of the British Ladies Championship, but true to form she confounded all, at Troon in 1904.

Here a single putt on the 18th green defeated May Hazlet and Lottie therefore became the only woman in sporting history to win both the British Tennis and Golf Championships.

As if that was not sufficient, the remarkable Lottie then quit competitive golf and turned her attention to archery, a sport in which other members of the Dodd family also excelled. Lottie went to the 1908 Olympics and won a silver medal in the ladies' event.

Later she pursued all manner of physical activity, including horse-riding, cycling, climbing
and ice-skating.

She remained the most modest of champions throughout her life and died in 1960, aged 88.