1886: THE CHAMPIONSHIPS (WIMBLEDON)
Dates: July 3-July 17 (The women's event commenced on July 14)
Venue: All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon (Worple Road), London, England.
Singles (Draw=8, plus holder)
Holder Maud Watson "sits out" until the Challenge Round.
Maud Shackle d. Julia Mackenzie 6-3 6-4
Amy Tabor d. Miss F. M. Pearson 6-1 6-2
Blanche Bingley d. Julia Shackle 6-2 6-1
Lilian Watson d. Miss A. M. Chambers 6-3 6-3
Tabor d. M. Shackle 6-4 7-5
Bingley d. L. Watson 6-3 8-6
Blanche Bingley d. Amy Tabor 6-2 6-0
Blanche Bingley d. Maud Watson (holder) 6-3 6-3
Missing full names for:
Miss F. M. Pearson
Miss A. M. Chambers
(Edith) Maud Shackle and Julia Shackle were twin sisters from Hayes in Middlesex.
Miss Bingley wins 4 matches first Wimbledon crown; downing the two Watson sisters in the process.
In 1886, a challenge cup was offered for the women's singles event for the first time. They had been under pressure to do this for some time; the men having a challenge cup since 1878. This meant that the holder did not have to play through the event, but could "sit out" and wait to meet the winner of what was known as the All-Comers' event.
As the holder Maude Watson did not sit so firmly on her throne as in previous years. Young sensation Lottie Dodd defeated her Bath 7-5 6-4, this being Watson's first defeat since 1881, halting her consecutive match streak at 54.
Sadly for spectators Miss Dod did not enter the Championships. Another prominent player who was absent was the Irish Louisa Martin. That left Blanche Bingley as Maud's likely challenger, and as expected Blanche won through to the final in straight sets, though Maud's sister Lilian gave her a stout fight, losing 6-3 8-6.
Blanche took out the defending champion in a straight set final. "Miss Bingley was in her very best form, hitting the ball vigorously on her forehand and showing no signs of her usual nervousness. Maud's play lacked the determined energy which was one of it's principal characteristics." (from Maud Watson: The First Wimbledon Champion, by Alan Little, page 10).
From "The Field Lawn Tennis Calendar" (1887): "Saturday, July 17. The weather during the morning made the chances of playing off the two championships very doubtful, but the tarpaulins with which the courts had been covered had done their work well, and, the rain ceasing in time, it was found quite practicable to play off both competitions. The attendance was again very limited, but those who were present were most liberal with their acknowledgements of good play. Miss Blanche Bingley has several times been beaten by Miss Maud Watson without once securing a victory, and it was hardly expected that on this occasion she would be able to win the championship, though to those who follow the leading tournaments it was well known that she was improving greatly.
"Miss Bingley commenced playing well, seeming to have thrown off much of the nervousness from which she generally suffers, and making her returns with great freedom, had little difficulty in winning the opening set by six games to three, only the fourth being well contested. On crossing over it was expected that Miss Watson would do much better, and she won the two opening games, but then fell away again, and eventually was defeated the same number of games as in the first set.
"Miss Bingley won 12 games and 61 strokes, and Miss Watson 6 games and 47 strokes. During the match Miss Watson won one love game and Miss Bingley two, and three of the games were at deuce. Rather a curious feature of the match was the number of double faults served, Miss Bingley only served one, but Miss Watson lost no less than five aces by them, and four out of these were the final strokes in games.
"Miss Watson was decidedly not playing up to her best form, her forehand returns being far too much above the top of the net, and the cut that she gets on them seems to bring the ball up instead of going on, and so gives her opponent more time for placing her stroke. Her backhand returns, on the contrary, were good all the way through. Miss Bingley's forte lies in her hard hitting, and she combines this with accuracy of placing. With good players she generally lacks strength with her backhand returns; but on this occasion she missed very few, and also got a fair amount of pace on them. Miss Bingley fully deserved her victory, as it is not every lady who is able to struggle under the weight of several defeats."
Blanche was given a gold bracelet for her win.