Kathleen McKane Godfree

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Kitty McKane Godfree
Kathleen McKane Godfree, Suzanne Lenglen, 1925.jpg
Kathleen McKane Godfree (left) and Suzanne Lenglen at the French Championships in 1925
Full nameKathleen McKane Godfree
Country (sports) Great Britain
Born(1896-05-07)7 May 1896
Bayswater, England
Died19 June 1992(1992-06-19) (aged 96)
London, England
PlaysRight-handed
Int. Tennis HoF1978 (member page)
Singles
Highest rankingNo.2 (1923, 1924, 1926)
Grand Slam Singles results
French OpenF (1923, 1925)
WimbledonW (1924, 1926)
US OpenF (1925)
Doubles
Grand Slam Doubles results
French OpenF (1925, 1926)
WimbledonF (1922, 1924, 1926)
US OpenW (1923, 1927)
Grand Slam Mixed Doubles results
WimbledonW (1924, 1926)
US OpenW (1925)
Team competitions
Wightman Cup(1924, 1925)

Kathleen "Kitty" McKane Godfree (née McKane; 7 May 1896 – 19 June 1992) was a British tennis and badminton player and the most decorated female British Olympian, joint with Katherine Grainger[1]

According to A. Wallis Myers of The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, Godfree was ranked in the world top ten from 1921 (when the rankings began) through 1927, reaching a career high of World No. 2 in those rankings in 1923, 1924, and 1926.[2][3]

Godfree won five Olympic medals in tennis at the 1920 Antwerp and 1924 Paris games, the most Olympic medals ever won by a tennis player[4] until Venus Williams matched this record at the 2016 Olympic Games. In 1923 she captured the title at the World Covered Court Championships.

Godfree won the Wimbledon singles title twice. In the 1924 final, Godfree recovered from a set and 4–1 (40–15) down against Helen Wills to win the title.[5] This was the only defeat at Wimbledon for Wills who would go on to win eight titles. In the 1926 final, Godfree recovered from a 3–1 and game-point-against deficit in the third set to defeat Lili de Alvarez.

The 1924 Wimbledon final was not Godfree's only victory over Wills. Godfree also defeated Wills during the 1924 Wightman Cup 6–2, 6–2.[6] On at least two other occasions, Godfree pushed Wills to the limit. Wills won their quarterfinal in the 1923 U.S. Championships 2–6, 6–2, 7–5 after Godfree recovered to 5–5 in the third set after trailing 5–2.[6] And in the final of the 1925 U.S. Championships, Wills won in three sets.

In 1925, Godfree became the first person to have reached the singles finals of the French Championships, Wimbledon, and U.S. Championships during her career.[7]

In 1922, Kitty and her sister Margaret McKane Stocks were the only sisters to contest a Wimbledon doubles final (until Serena and Venus Williams reached the final in 2000), losing to Suzanne Lenglen and Elizabeth Ryan 6–0, 6–4.[6]

Godfree's lifetime record at Wimbledon was 38–11 in singles, 33–12 in women's doubles, and 40–12 in mixed doubles.[6]

Godfree received a Centenary medallion on Wimbledon's Centre Court in 1977.[6] She presented the winner's trophy to Martina Navratilova in 1986, in honour of the centenary year of play at Wimbledon.[8][9] Godfree was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1978.

In badminton, Godfree won eight All England Open Badminton Championships from 1920 through 1925, considered the unofficial World Badminton Championships[10] until 1977.

She was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1988 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews. Godfree died on 19 June 1992 at the age of 96.[11]

Grand Slam finals[edit]

Singles: 5 (2 titles, 3 runners-up)[edit]

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Loss 1923 Wimbledon Grass France Suzanne Lenglen 2–6, 2–6
Win 1924 Wimbledon Grass United States Helen Wills 4–6, 6–4, 6–4
Loss 1925 French Championships Clay France Suzanne Lenglen 1–6, 2–6
Loss 1925 U.S. National Championships Grass United States Helen Wills 6–3, 0–6, 2–6
Win 1926 Wimbledon Grass Spain Lilí de Álvarez 6–2, 4–6, 6–3

Doubles: 7 (2 titles, 5 runners-up)[edit]

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Loss 1922 Wimbledon Grass United Kingdom Margaret McKane Stocks France Suzanne Lenglen
United States Elizabeth Ryan
0–6, 4–6
Win 1923 U.S. National Championships Grass United Kingdom Phyllis Howkins Covell United States Eleanor Goss
United States Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman
2–6, 6–2, 6–1
Loss 1924 Wimbledon Grass United Kingdom Phyllis Howkins Covell United States Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman
United States Helen Wills
4–6, 4–6
Loss 1925 French Championships Clay United Kingdom Evelyn Colyer France Suzanne Lenglen
France Julie Vlasto
1–6, 11–9, 2–6
Loss 1926 French Championships Clay United Kingdom Evelyn Colyer France Suzanne Lenglen
France Julie Vlasto
1–6, 1–6
Loss 1926 Wimbledon Grass United Kingdom Evelyn Colyer United States Mary Browne
United States Elizabeth Ryan
1–6, 1–6
Win 1927 U.S. National Championships Grass United Kingdom Ermyntrude Harvey United Kingdom Joan Fry
United Kingdom Betty Nuthall
6–1, 4–6, 6–4

Mixed doubles: 5 (3 titles, 2 runners-up)[edit]

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Loss 1923 U.S. National Championships Grass Australia John Hawkes United States Molla Bjurstedt Mallory
United States Bill Tilden
3–6, 6–2, 8–10
Win 1924 Wimbledon Grass United Kingdom Brian Gilbert United Kingdom Dorothy Shepherd
United Kingdom Leslie Godfree
6–3, 3–6, 6–3
Win 1925 U.S. National Championships Grass Australia John Hawkes United Kingdom Ermyntrude Harvey
United States Vincent Richards
6–2, 6–4
Win 1926 Wimbledon Grass United Kingdom Leslie Godfree United States Mary Browne
United States Howard Kinsey
6–3, 6–4
Loss 1927 Wimbledon Grass United Kingdom Leslie Godfree United States Elizabeth Ryan
United States Frank Hunter
6–8, 0–6

Grand Slam singles tournament timeline[edit]

Key
W  F  SF QF #R RR Q# A NH
(W) Won; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (A) absent; (NH) not held. SR=strike rate (events won/competed)
Tournament 1919 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934 Career SR
Australia NH NH NH A A A A A A A A A A A A A 0 / 0
France1 NH A A SF F NH F QF A A A A A A A A 0 / 4
Wimbledon QF 3R 2R 2R F W SF W QF A A A 4R 4R 2R 3R 2 / 13
United States A A A A QF A F A 1R A A A A A A A 0 / 3
SR 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 2 0 / 3 1 / 1 0 / 3 1 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 1 0 / 1 2 / 20

1Through 1923, the French Championships were open only to French nationals. The World Hard Court Championships (WHCC), actually played on clay in Paris or Brussels, began in 1912 and were open to all nationalities. The results from that tournament are shown here from 1920 through 1923. The Olympics replaced the WHCC in 1924, as the Olympics were held in Paris. Beginning in 1925, the French Championships were open to all nationalities, with the results shown here beginning with that year.

Husband[edit]

Kitty and her husband Leslie remain the only married couple ever to win the mixed doubles championship at Wimbledon,[12] winning the title in 1926. Kitty has also been referred to as Mrs. L. A. Godfree on sportscards and in reference material.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Kitty Godfree, Tennis Titlist, Is Dead at 96". The New York Times. 20 June 1992.
  2. ^ Collins, Bud (2008). The Bud Collins History of Tennis: An Authoritative Encyclopedia and Record Book. New York, N.Y: New Chapter Press. pp. 695, 701. ISBN 0-942257-41-3.
  3. ^ Kitty and King George V. at Wimbledon 1926 in The Illustrated London News
  4. ^ Blue Plaque for Kathleen "Kitty" Godfree, Wimbledon Champion
  5. ^ "Kitty Godfree | British athlete". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d e Collins, Bud (2008) p.565
  7. ^ "Kitty McKane". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  8. ^ "Martina Keeps All England Under Her Rule". Los Angeles Times. 6 July 1986.
  9. ^ "Plaque honours tennis great Kitty". BBC. 23 October 2006.
  10. ^ The History of All England Championships Archived 26 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1992/06/20/sports/kitty-godfree-tennis-titlist-is-dead-at-96.html
  12. ^ Blue Plaque for Kathleen 'Kitty' Godfree, Wimbledon Champion

External links[edit]