If you are a tennis fan I am sure you watched Serena Williams win her record-tying 22nd Grand Slam singles title on Saturday. Pretty amazing. Her strength and consistency is awe-inspiring. It got me to thinking about how lucky we are as women to have the opportunity to play this game professionally. I started thinking about all the women tennis players I could remember. I went back as far as Billie Jean King in 1966.
Then I got curious.
Maud Watson, who died 70 years ago, was the 19 year old daughter of a Vicar near Coventry, England when she became the All England’s Club’s first Ladies’ Singles Champion (Wimbledon) in 1884.
Between 1879 and 1884 attempts to include ladies’ events at Wimbledon had failed. It was only after a threat by the London Athlectic Club to host the ladies’ tournament that Wimbledon backed down and finally agreed to the competition.
What I found particularly interesting in my research of Maud was her similarity to Serena. You see, Maud had a sister named Lilian, 7 years her senior, who was also a formidable tennis player. Maud’s first competition in 1881 paired her with her sister. They won the doubles competition that year.
Maud played against her sister Lilian in the historic 1884 Single’s Championship and it was a very tight contest.
The next time that two sisters met in a singles contest was in 2002 when Serena beat her sister Venus in the first of four finals.
I would love to be able to sit down with Maud, Lilian, Serena and Venus and hear them talk about their experiences as siblings in this competitive sport.
Congratulations to Serena and Maud for their accomplishments and to their sisters who were close on their heels.
Have a great day!