Maud Watson

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Maud Watson
19th century Tennis champions.jpg
Maud Watson, sitting, on the right
Full name Maud Edith Eleanor Watson
Country (sports)  United Kingdom
Born (1864-10-09)9 October 1864
Harrow, London, England
Died 5 June 1946(1946-06-05) (aged 81)
Charmouth, Dorset, England
Turned pro 1881
Retired 1889
Plays Right-handed
Grand Slam Singles results
Wimbledon W (1884, 1885)

Maud Edith Eleanor Watson MBE (9 October 1864 – 5 June 1946) was an English tennis player and the first female Wimbledon champion.


Born in Harrow, London, the daughter of a local vicar Henry William and Emily Frances Watson.[1] At the age of sixteen Watson played her first at the Edgbaston Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club. It was a successful debut, winning the singles competition by defeating her sister Lillian in the final and winning the doubles competition with her.

In 1884 Maud participated in the Irish Ladies' Championship and defeated the reigning Irish champion May Langrishe 6–3, 6–2, 6–2. She was also victorious in the mixed doubles tournament winning the title with multiple Wimbledon champion William Renshaw. Undefeated in tournament play, in 1884 the nineteen-year-old Watson won the first ever Ladies’ Singles title at Wimbledon. Playing in white corsets and petticoats, from a field of thirteen competitors she defeated Lilian 6–8, 6–3, 6–3 in the final to claim the title and a silver flower basket valued at 20 Guineas.[2][3]

1885 was a year of great success for Maud, who remained unbeaten in singles and lost only one set.[1] Maud repeated her success at the 1885 Wimbledon championships. In a field of just 10 entries she easily won the quarter- and semi-finals and in the final defeated Blanche Bingley 6–1, 7–5.[4] She successfully defended her title at the 1885 Irish Championships against Louise Martin. For two sets there was little to choose between them but in the decider Maud outstayed her opponent to win 6–2, 4–6, 6–3.[1] In 1886, the year the Challenge Round was introduced for women, Bingley turned the tables, defeating Watson 6–3, 6–3 in the final to take the title.[5]

In 1887 and 1888 Watson was handicapped by a sprained wrist which worsened with time.[6] Her final competition came at the Edgebaston tournament in June 1889. She entered three events (doubles, mixed doubles and handicap singles) and won them all. While on holiday in Jersey she went swimming off the coast and nearly drowned. She was rescued with difficulty and suffered an illness afterwards which took a number of years to completely recover.[7]

Watson worked as a nurse during the First World War for which she was rewarded as a Member of the Order of the British Empire.[8][9] Maud Watson, who did not marry, died at Hammersmead House in Charmouth on 5 June 1946, at the age of 81.[10][9]

Grand Slam finals[edit]

Singles (2 titles, 1 runner-up)[edit]

Outcome Year Championship Opponent in final Score in final
Winner 1884 Wimbledon United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Lillian Watson 6–8, 6–3, 6–3
Winner 1885 Wimbledon United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Blanche Bingley 6–1, 7–5
Runner-up 1886 Wimbledon United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Blanche Bingley 3–6, 3–6


  1. ^ a b c Little, Alan (1983). Maud Watson : The First Wimbledon Lady Champion. London: The Kenneth Ritchie Wimbledon Library, The Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum. ISBN 978-0906741115. 
  2. ^ Barrett, John (2001). Wimbledon : The Official History of the Championships. London: CollinsWillow. pp. 28–30. ISBN 0007117078. 
  3. ^ Little, Alan; Tingay, Lance (1984). Wimbledon Ladies : A Centenary Record 1884-1984 : The Single Champions. London: Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum. pp. 7, 8. ISBN 0906741130. 
  4. ^ Barrett, John (2001). Wimbledon : The Official History of the Championships. London: CollinsWillow. p. 247. ISBN 0007117078. 
  5. ^ Collins, Bud (2010). The Bud Collins History of Tennis (2nd ed.). [New York]: New Chapter Press. p. 425. ISBN 978-0942257700. 
  6. ^ Little (1983), pp11–13
  7. ^ Little (1983), p. 14
  8. ^ Collins (2010), p. 712
  9. ^ a b Little (1983), p. 15
  10. ^ Collins (2010), p. 10