Charlotte Cooper (tennis)

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For other people of the same name, see Charlotte Cooper (disambiguation).
Charlotte Cooper Sterry
Charlotte Cooper.jpg
Full name Charlotte Reinagle Cooper Sterry
Country  United Kingdom
Born (1870-09-22)22 September 1870
Ealing, England
Died 10 October 1966(1966-10-10) (aged 96)
Helensburgh, Scotland
Plays Right–handed
Singles
Grand Slam Singles results
Wimbledon W (1895, 1896, 1898, 1901, 1908)
Other tournaments
Olympic Games Gold medal.svg Gold Medal (1900)
Doubles
Grand Slam Doubles results
Wimbledon F (1913)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
Wimbledon 3R (1914)
Other Mixed Doubles tournaments
Olympic Games Gold medal.svg Gold Medal (1900)
Olympic medal record
Representing  Great Britain
Women's Tennis
Gold 1900 Paris Singles
Gold 1900 Paris Mixed doubles

Charlotte Cooper Sterry (née Charlotte Reinagle Cooper, 22 September 1870 – 10 October 1966) was an English female tennis player who won five singles titles at the Wimbledon Championships and in 1900 became the first female Olympic champion.

Early life and career[edit]

Charlotte Cooper Sterry vs Blanche Bingley Hillyard at Eastbourne

Charlotte Cooper was born on 22 September 1870 at Waldham Lodge, Ealing, Middlesex, England, the youngest daughter of Henry Cooper, a miller, and his wife Teresa Georgiana Miller.[1] She learned to play tennis at the Ealing Lawn Tennis Club where she was first coached by H. Lawrence and later by Charles Martin and Harold Mahony.[a] She won her first senior singles title in 1893 at Ilkley. Between 1893 and 1917 she participated in 21 Wimbledon tournaments. At her first appearance she reached the semifinal of the singles event in which she lost to Blanche Bingley Hillyard. She won her first singles title in 1895 defeating Helen Jackson in the final of the All-Comers event, wearing an ankle-length dress in accordance with proper Victorian attire.[2][b] In that match she was down 0–5 in both sets but managed to win in straight sets.[3] The following year, 1896, she successfully defended her title in the Challenge Round against Alice Simpson Pickering. Between 1897 and 1901 the titles were divided between Cooper Sterry (1898, 1901) and Bingley Hillyard (1897, 1899, 1900). The 1902 Challenge Round match against Muriel Robb was halted on the first day of play due to rainfall at 6–4, 11–13. The match was replayed in its entirety the next day and Robb won 7–5, 6–1, playing a total of 53 games which was then a record for the longest women's singles final.[4][5] In 1908 as a mother of two she won her last singles title when she defeated Agnes Morton in straight sets in the All-Comers final after a seven year hiatus and at the age of 37 year and 282 days.[6][7] She is the oldest Wimbledon’s ladies’ singles champion and her record of eight consecutive singles finals stood until 1990 when Martina Navratilova reached her ninth consecutive singles final.[7][8]

In addition to her singles titles Cooper Sterry also won seven All-England mixed doubles titles; five times with Harold Mahoney (1894–1898) and once with Laurence Doherty (1900) and Xenophon Casdagli (1908).[c] In 1913 she reached the final of the first Wimbledon women's doubles event with Dorothea Douglass, 18 years after wining her first Wimbledon title.

She won the singles title at the Irish Lawn Tennis Championships in 1895 and 1898, a prestigious tournament at the time. At the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, France where women participated for the first time, Cooper Sterry won the tennis singles event. On 11 July 1900 she defeated Hélène Prévost in the final in straight sets and became not only the first female Olympic tennis champion but also the first individual female Olympic champion. Together with Reginald Doherty she also won the mixed doubles title after a straight sets victory in the final against Hélène Prévost and Harold Mahoney.[9][d] In 1901 she won the singles title at the German Championships which were held that year in Bad Homburg and in 1902 she won the Swiss Championship in Ragatz.[10] Cooper Sterry remained active in competitive tennis and continued to play in championship events well into her 50s.

In January 1901 she married Alfred Sterry, a solicitor, who became President of the Lawn Tennis Association. They had two children: Rex (born 1903) who was the Vice-Chairman of the All England Club for a period of 15 years during the 1960s and 1970 and Gwen (born 1905), a tennis player who participated at Wimbledon and played on Britain's Wightman Cup team.[1][11][12][13]

Cooper Sterry, who had been deaf since the age of 26, died on 10 October 1966 at the age of 96, in Helensburgh, Scotland.[1]

She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013.[14]

Playing style[edit]

Cooper Sterry had an offensive style of playing, attacking the net when the opportunity arose. She was one of a few female players of her time who served overhead. Her main strengths were her steadiness, temperament and tactical ability.[1] Her excellent volleying skills stood out at a time when this was still a rarity in ladies tennis.[10]

Grand Slam finals[edit]

Singles: 11 (5 titles, 6 runners-up)[edit]

Result Year Championship Opponent in final Score in final
Winner 1895[b] Wimbledon (1) United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Helen Jackson Atkins 7–5, 8–6
Winner 1896 Wimbledon (2) United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Alice Simpson Pickering 6–2, 6–3
Runner-up 1897 Wimbledon United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Blanche Bingley Hillyard 7–5, 5–7, 2–6
Winner 1898[e] Wimbledon (3) United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Louisa Martin 6–4, 6–4
Runner-up 1899 Wimbledon United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Blanche Bingley Hillyard 2–6, 3–6
Runner-up 1900 Wimbledon United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Blanche Bingley Hillyard 6–4, 4–6, 4–6
Winner 1901 Wimbledon (4) United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Blanche Bingley Hillyard 6–2, 6–2
Runner-up 1902 Wimbledon United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Muriel Robb 5–7, 1–6
Runner-up 1904 Wimbledon United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Dorothea Lambert Chambers 0–6, 3–6
Winner 1908[f] Wimbledon (5) United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Agnes Morton 6–4, 6–4
Runner-up 1912 Wimbledon United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Ethel Thomson Larcombe 3–6, 1–6

Doubles: 1 (0 titles, 1 runner-up)[edit]

Result Year Championship Partner Opponents in the final Score in final
Runner-up 1913 Wimbledon United Kingdom Dorothea Douglass United Kingdom Winifred McNair
United Kingdom Dora Boothby
4–6, 2–4 ret.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In the 1910 book by Dorothy Chambers titled "Lawn Tennis for Ladies" Cooper Sterry describes winning her first championship at the Ealing Club: "Winning my first championship of the Ealing Lawn Tennis Club at the age of 14 was a very important moment in my life. How well I remember, bedecked by my proud mother in my best clothes, running off to the Club on the Saturday afternoon to play in the final without a vestige of nerve (would that I had none now!), and winning—that was the first really important match of my life."
  2. ^ a b This was actually the all-comers final as Blanche Bingley Hillyard did not defend her 1894 Wimbledon title, which resulted in the winner of the all-comers final winning the challenge round and, thus, Wimbledon in 1895 by walkover.
  3. ^ The Mixed Doubles only became an official Championship event in 1913.
  4. ^ Medals were not awarded until the 1904 Summer Olympics.
  5. ^ This was actually the all-comers final as Blanche Bingley Hillyard did not defend her 1897 Wimbledon title, which resulted in the winner of the all-comers final winning the challenge round and, thus, Wimbledon in 1898 by walkover.
  6. ^ This was actually the all-comers final as May Sutton did not defend her 1907 Wimbledon title, which resulted in the winner of the all-comers final winning the challenge round and, thus, Wimbledon in 1908 by walkover.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – Sterry [née Cooper], Charlotte Reinagle". Oxford University Press. 
  2. ^ Kelly Exelby (10 July 2012). "Tennis: Proud links to an All England legend". The New Zealand Herald. 
  3. ^ Dorothy Lambert Chambers (1910). Lawn Tennis for Ladies (1 ed.). London: Outing Publishing Company. 
  4. ^ Barrett, John (2013). Wimbledon : The Official History of the Championships (2nd edition. ed.). Kingston upon Thames: Vision Sports Pub Ltd. p. 77. ISBN 9781907637896. 
  5. ^ Hedges, Martin (1978). The Concise Dictionary of Tennis. New York: Mayflower Books. pp. 202–203. ISBN 978-0861240128. 
  6. ^ "Wimbledon player archive – Charlotte Sterry (Cooper)". AELTC. 
  7. ^ a b Bud Collins (2010). The Bud Collins History of Tennis (2nd ed.). [New York]: New Chapter Press. pp. 445, 709. ISBN 978-0942257700. 
  8. ^ "Wimbledon Top 10: Oldest Champions". AELTC. 
  9. ^ "Olympics – Charlotte Cooper". Sports Reference. 
  10. ^ a b A Wallis Myers, ed. (1903). Lawn Tennis at Home and Abroad (1 ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 170, 280. OCLC 5358651. 
  11. ^ Robertson, Max (1974). The Encyclopedia of Tennis. London: Allen & Unwin. pp. 323, 324. ISBN 9780047960420. 
  12. ^ "Wimbledon players archive – Gwen Simmers (Sterry)". AELTC. 
  13. ^ "Charlotte Cooper Sterry". Helensburgh Heroes. 
  14. ^ "Hall of Famers – Charlotte Cooper Sterry". International Tennis Hall of Fame.