Dodd... the Wirral wonder
A true superstar whose exploits have almost been forgotten
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
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 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,
She remained the most modest of champions throughout her life and
died in 1960, aged 88.
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