Dates: July 5-July 19 (The women's event commenced on July 16)
Venue: All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon (Worple Road), London, England.
Maud Watson d. Mrs A Tyrwhitt-Drake 6-0 6-2
Blanche Williams d. Mrs C Wallis 6-2 6-1
Blanche Bingley d. Edith Cole 6-3 6-3
Florence Winckworth d. E Bushnell 6-0 6-1
Mrs. GJ Cooper d. C Bushnell default
M Leslie d. B Wallis 6-2 6-1
Watson d. Williams 7-5 6-0
Bingley d. Winckworth 6-0 6-8 6-3
L Watson d. Cooper 7-5 5-7 6-3
M Watson d. Bingley 3-6 6-4 6-2
L Watson d. Leslie 6-4 6-1
Maud Watson d. Lilian Watson 6-8 6-3 6-3
Standardized draws with byes distributed evenly are not yet common. M Leslie wins her first round match and then gets a bye into the semifinals.
The London Times
Maud Watson. by Alan Little.
Recognized as the first ever grand slam for women today. At this time the Irish ladies championship(started in 1879), as the older event, held more prestiege.
Leslie won a first round match , then got a quarterfinal bye, a curiosity never repeated.
Bingley became more famous as Blanche Hillyard.
This was only time two sisters contested a slam final until the Williams did so at the 2001 Us Open
First prize was a sliver flower basket Because of heavy starched long sleeves shirts, the ladies served underhanded. The lone exception was Maud Watson, the winner. All the ladies also wore hats.
The Times noted that both finalists represented the Berkeswell Club, yet neglected to mention they were sisters.
[From Alan Little's booklet on Maud Watson]
Although The Championships at Wimbledon started in 1877, it was not until seven years later that the Ladies’ Championship was inaugurated. The recognition of the fair sex was far from the first but followed the lead given by the Irish Championships in 1879 and other tournaments such as Bath, Edgbaston and Exmouth in 1881.
When in March 1884, the All England Lawn Tennis Club Committee announced that the forthcoming meeting would be enlarged by the introduction of a gentlemen’s doubles event, no mention was made of staging a ladies’ singles. This decision came as late as 21 June and was undoubtedly influenced by the knowledge that the neighbouring London Athletic Club at Stamford Bridge planned to institute a Ladies’ Championship. Rather than create a difficult situation the L.A.C. graciously withdrew in favour of the premier body, which they felt had a priority to hold the Championship.
An entrance fee of 10 shillings and sixpence was charged for The Championship, the draw for which took place in the Pavilion on 10 July and included the names of 13 competitors. The first prize was a silver flower-basket, value 20 guineas, and the second, a silver and glass hand mirror and silver-backed brush, value 10 guineas.
The event, run concurrently with the gentlemen’s doubles, commenced on Wednesday, 16 July, the day after the conclusion of the gentlemen’s singles. Play occupied the courts for four days and was reasonably attended in view of the poor weather on the first three days, when strong south-west winds blew and showers were frequent. However, the Saturday was fine and between four and five hundred spectators assembled at Worple Road to witness the final.
Maud Watson, at the age of 19, became the first champion. In the opening round she easily defeated Mrs A. Tyrwhitt-Drake, whose style entailed in holding her racket more than half-way up the handle, 6-0, 6-2. In her next match, Maud was given a testing time in the first set by Miss Blanche Williams, who led 4-2, but she recovered to 5-all and then took the next eight games. A mild sensation occurred in the following round when Maud lost the opening set 6-3 to a very determined Miss Blanche Bingley, before raising her game to take the next two sets, 6-3, 6-2.
In the other half of the draw, Maud’s sister, Lilian, won her through to the final. Maud’s superiority was so well known that the result was regarded as a foregone conclusion, but on this occasion, however, Lilian exhibited greater accuracy and severity in her strokes than normal and was able to capture the first set, 8-6. Maud, undeterred, fought back to win the next two by 6-3, 6-3. Victory confirmed Maud’s standing as the leading player of that time and ensured that her name would appear in the record book for posterity.
By all accounts, The Championship was a great success, a sentiment echoed by at least one competitor who wrote to a journal of the day: “We ladies would like to thank Mr Julian Marshall (Secretary) for our pretty dressing room and his selection of an attendant. Nothing was forgotten, from the beautiful flowers on the table to the smallest toilet luxuries.”
“For this event thirteen entries had been received, and play in the first round began soon after three o’clock on Wednesday. Miss Lilian Watson had the bye, and, as Miss C. Bushell had scratched to Mrs G.C. Cooper, only five matches became necessary. The winners of each of these matches showed capital form. That of Miss Maud Watson is tolerably well known, and in her match with Mrs Tyhwhitt-Drake, who would add to the effectiveness of her by no means weak game by holding the racket less by the central portion of the handle, there was no necessity for showing the best of it. Several games were well contested, the third game in the first set reaching deuce three times, and the fifth twice. In the second set two games were called deuce. The only love game of the match fell to Mrs Tyrwhitt-Drake.
“Miss Williams had some difficulty in winning the first set from Miss C. Wallis, four games being called deuce in it, the seventh game four times, and the second twice. In the second set the first game fell only to Miss Wallis, to love, Miss Williams in this set winning three love games. As Mrs Edith Cole had only recently won the ladies’ handicap at Winchmore Hill, owing fifteen, Miss Blanche Bingley being at scratch, it was rather a surprise to see the latter on this occasion defeat her by two sets to love, on equal terms. Miss Bingley plays a very determined game, and is not easily tired. All the games were well contested, three in first set and four in the second reaching deuce. In each set Mrs Cole won three games only.
“The high wind was too much for Miss E. Bushell, who succumbed to a stronger player in Miss Winckworth, to whom three love games were registered. In the first set the third and fourth games were brought to deuce. Miss M. Leslie seemed to hold Miss B. Wallis safe, although six games were called deuce, all of them falling to Miss Leslie, who also won two love games. The high wind completely bothered many of the players, it requiring a deal of judgment to keep the ball in court, from one end, and out of the net, from the other.
“The second round produced some good play. Playing from the better end, Miss Williams was able to make a good stand against Miss Maud Watson in the first set. Two games-all was called, and then Miss Williams reached four to two. Two games to Miss Watson made it four-all, and alternate games five-all. A love game and one to thirty then gave Miss Watson the set. A love set followed to the Berkshire lady, Miss Williams only succeeding in bringing the sixth game to deuce.
“The match between Miss Bingley and Miss Winckworth was, we fancy, prolonged by the weather. Playing with the wind, Miss Bingley took a love set, the first game being brought to deuce twice. In the second set, one, two and three-all was called. Miss Winckworth reached five to three, but Miss Bingley brought matters to games-all. Miss Winckworth got the advantage game, but games-all was again called, when Miss Winckworth won two love games in succession, and the set. In the third set ends were of course changed at each game. Miss Winckworth was two love and three to one, but Miss Bingley came with a run of five and won the set and match.
“The match between Mrs Cooper and Miss Lilian Watson was very close and interesting. Mrs Cooper is not known as a player at tournaments, at which the quality of her play would undoubtedly bring her many successes. Seen for the first time, it received many encomiums, although the lady was palpably at a disadvantage in being unused to play in such important affairs. Miss Watson began from the better end, and won the first game. The second game reached deuce six times and fell to Mrs Cooper. Alternate games were won to three-all, and then each in turn became one game ahead, but five-all was called. Two games to Miss Watson then gave her the set.
“In the second set one and two-all was called, when Miss Watson went ahead until five games to three was called in her favour. Mrs Cooper then had a series of four victories, which gave her the set, at seven to five. Although Mrs Cooper was clearly not playing so well in the third set, it was stoutly contested. The third game was called deuce six times, and four other games also reached deuce. Miss Watson was at one time four games to one, and the set fell to her eventually at six games to three. Miss Leslie had the bye.
“In the third round, the match between Miss Bingley and Miss Maud Watson produced a mild sensation amongst the immediate friends of the competitors. Playing with her usual determination, Miss Bingley would not be denied in the first set, which she won at six games to three, in spite of Miss Watson’s endeavours in the last three games, each of which was brought to deuce, the last four times.
“In the second set Miss Watson was soon three to love, but Miss Bingley replied with a like number, two of them love games. The set in the end went to Miss Watson, at six to four, the last game being to love. Opening with a love game, five in succession fell to Miss Watson in the third set, in which Miss Bingley was able to secure two games only. The match thus fell to Miss Watson by two sets to one. Miss Watson the elder [Lilian] had not much difficulty in winning from Miss Leslie, and the two sisters were thus left in to play for the championship.
“The superiority of Miss Maud Watson over her sister is so well known that the result was regarded as a foregone conclusion. Such perhaps it was, but it had to be conceded on all hands that never before had Miss Watson played so strong a game, or exhibited greater accuracy and severity in her cross stroke. Time after time she passed her sister, when that lady came up to volley, and the strokes which fell to her lot were nearly all won by sheer good play. As an exhibition it was far and away the best ever given by ladies at the game in England, Ireland, with the memory of the Dublin tournament still green, being on this occasion excepted. But even in the Fitzwilliam Square matches the play was very little superior.
“In the first set the score mounted very gradually, games-all being called at each stage, from one to five. Miss Maud scored the advantage game, after twice deuce; but a love game displaced her, and her sister, by winning two more games, took the set at eight games to six. In the second set Miss Maud won two loves games, and took the set at six to three. In the third set Miss Maud took the first two games, but three then fell to Miss Lilian, including two love games. A love game, and three more, then gave Miss Maud the set, and the match.
“The play was very deservedly frequently applauded, some of the rests being capitally played, and containing really fine strokes. Thus Miss Maud Watson is at last the undoubted lady champion of All England, a title which has for long been accorded her acclamation. It will take a very strong player indeed to wrest the title from this lady.”