The birth of tournament play for women can be traced back to these two events in 1876. The source for the Irish event is somewhat shrouded. In contrast the Bermuda event has no doubts attached to it, as the winner herself later wrote an article regarding the event.
We lack specific dates for both tournaments.
???? Irish Tournament
, Dublin, Ireland (Grass)
FI: Miss W Casey d Miss Vance ????
"Dublin's historic, if unheralded, women's tournament was played in conjunction with the Irish Championships for men."
Source: page 5 of We Have Come a Long Way: The Story of Women's Tennis. By Billie Jean King. 1988.
Won by Mary G Gray d Rose Key 2-0 (does this mean 2 sets to zero?)
For more info see American Lawn Tennis
, 'A Bermuda Tournament in 1876', Mary Gray, 15 September, 1924, p.534 and Todd, T., The Tennis Players, from Pagan Rites to Strawberries and Cream
, Gurnsey: Vallancey, 1979, p.164
There were only three entrants including Mary's sister Bessie and Rose Key, with Mary winning the tournament and defeating Miss Key in the final 2-0. Mary Gray noted -- 'The prize was the raquet which I still have: it weighs 9 ounces, the face measuring 8 x 10 inches and the handle sixteen inches. It had a red velvet handle covering (which I promptly tore off) and an inscription on a silver plate...which contains the following inscription "Ladies Prize for Lawn Tennis won by Miss M. Gray Bermuda 1876"
Results for other years may be found at: