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Chambers, Dorothea Lambert (1878–1960)

Chambers, Dorothea Lambert (1878–1960)

British tennis champion and seven-time singles winner at Wimbledon. Name variations: Dorothea Katharine Chambers; Dorothea Lambert-Chambers; Mrs. Robert Lambert Chambers; Dorothea Katherine Douglass. Born Dorothea Katharine Douglass at Ealing, Middlesex, England, in September 1878; died in January 1960; married Robert Lambert Chambers, 1907.

Singles winner at Wimbledon (1903, 1904, 1906, 1910, 1911, 1913, and 1914); All-England badminton doubles champion (1903) and mixed champion (1904); won an Olympic gold medal in singles tennis in London (1908).

Possibly the most outstanding woman tennis player before World War I, Dorothea Lambert Chambers was one of the first athletes to take up tennis as a serious sport and was a forerunner to the modern-day dedicated professional. The daughter of a cleric, she won her first Wimbledon title by default in 1903, when Muriel Robb did not defend her title. Chambers retained the Wimbledon title in 1904 against Charlotte Sherry but lost it in 1905 to American May Sutton . The following year, she regained the title but lost to Sutton again in 1907. Chambers was the All-England badminton doubles champion in 1903 and mixed champion in 1904. In the London Olympics in 1908, she won the gold medal in singles tennis.

After leaving competition to have a child, Chambers returned to Wimbledon with renewed determination in 1910 and won the title, as she would three more time times in the next four years. Her 1911 win over Dora Boothby , by a score of 6–0, 6–0, was the only shut out of its kind in a Wimbledon singles final. Following World War I, which halted competition, Chambers returned to the courts, blessedly free of the long skirts and petticoats that had restricted play early in her career. Now 40 years old, she faced the brilliant young Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen in one of the most exciting of all women's finals at Wimbledon, with Lenglen barely squeaking out the win in the final set. The following year, Chambers again faced Lenglen in the finals but was defeated 6–3, 6–0.

In 1925, at age 46, Chambers was selected to play for Great Britain in the Wightman Cup at Forest Hills. On the first day, partnered with Ermyntrude Harvey , she won a doubles match against Americans Molla Mallory and May Sutton. On the second day, in searing heat, Chambers won her singles match against Eleanor Goss , a woman half her age, in a game that J. Arthur Batley, the British Team manager, called "the brainiest display of lawn tennis one could wish to see." It was Great Britain's first Wightman victory on American soil, a feat that was not to be repeated again for 50 years. In 1928, Chambers turned to coaching.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

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