Charlotte "Lottie" Dod became popular as a tennis player, but she was a multi-sport athlete. She competed in other sports, including archery, field hockey, and golf. She was included in the list of the most versatile female athletes of all time, along with Babe Zaharias, in the Guinness Book of Records.
Five Facts about Lottie Dod:
Dod was 15 when she entered the Wimbledon ladies singles championship in 1887, which title she won.
Dod believed that ladies must be less ladylike when playing a sport.
She became an amateur champion in the British ladies division for golf in 1904.
She won at the 1908 Olympics for archery.
She started playing field hockey in 1897 when the sport was still young and became one of the founding members of the Spital's women's hockey club.
Lottie Dod Biography
Dod hailed from Bebington, Chesire, and was the youngest of four children. She never had to work due to her family's fortune from her father, Joseph's, success in trading cotton.
Aside from Lottie, her three siblings also excelled in sports. Her brother, Tony, played tennis, chess, and archery. Meanwhile, her sister, Annie, played billiards, ice skating, golf, and tennis. Her other brother, Willy, was an Olympic gold medalist for archery.
All Dod siblings had governesses and private tutors. Besides sports, Lottie played the piano when she was young and was part of a local choir. It was in 1873 when lawn tennis was invented, which used to be associated with wealth. The sport was considered highly fashionable in England.
When Lottie was nine, two tennis courts were made near Edgeworth, her family's estate. She would often play the sport along with her siblings. The courts were also used as venues for tennis parties attended by would-be champions, including Wilfred and Herbert Baddeley, and Joshua Pim. Lottie joined Birkenhead's Rock Ferry Tennis Club when she was eleven.
Lottie was eleven when she entered her first tournament in tennis, the Northern Championships in Manchester, in 1883. After almost beating Maud Watson, she gained prominence in the sport in 1885 at the Northern Championships, the reigning Wimbledon champion. The press gave her the nickname, Little Wonder, for accomplishing a lot at such a young age in the singles games and doubles along with her sister, Annie.
She won the singles title in 1886 at the West of England Championships in Bath against Watson. A year later, Lottie was considered a first-class player after being paired with Ernest Renshaw, a seven-time winner in the Wimbledon doubles, for the Irish Championships' mixed doubles event.
She became the youngest winner of the singles championship ladies division at the Wimbledon Championships in 1887. She bled during the match due to the metal and whalebone corset she was wearing. She was 15 at the time, making her the youngest ladies singles champion of all time, even up to this day.
She tried other activities starting in 1895 when Lottie went with her brother, Tony, to the St. Moritz winter sports resort. She passed its skating test, which was considered the most prestigious event in figure skating during that time. The other winter sports she tried the following years after included toboggan, mountaineering, and curling.
Lottie started playing hockey when the game was still new for women. She even became the team captain of the women's hockey club in Spital as the team had winning streaks, except when she did not play. She continued soaring high in the sport until she had to lie low in 1900 due to sciatica attacks.
Lottie first played golf when she was fifteen when there were limited golf clubs that allowed women to play. In 1894, Lottie was among the pioneers of the ladies' golf club in Moreton.
Lottie and her brothers sold Edgeworth in 1905 before moving to Newbury, Berkshire, their new home. They picked up archery, which they have been practicing in the past year, as a sport.
In 1906, Lottie won her first tournament at the Grand National Archery Meeting. She was too close to winning the Grand National in 1910. She continued playing archery as a pro until 1911, which also became the end of her career in participating in long competitive sports.
Legacy and Death
She moved to a new home in Bideford with her brother, Willy, in 1913. During World War I, Lottie spent her time working as a nurse for the British Red Cross and Chelsea VAD Hospital. She also volunteered in a Berkshire military hospital.
She would have helped out in France's war zones but was forced to stay in England due to her sciatica.
In the latter years of her life, she lived in London and Devon and never missed watching Wimbledon Championships. She spent time hopping from one nursing home to another after she lost her brother. She was 88, unmarried, and was listening to the radio broadcasts about Wimbledon in her bed when she died.
In 1983, she was recognized and became part of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
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