CHAMBERS, DOROTHEA (nee Dorothea Katherine Douglass)
Born 03 September 1878 in Ealing, Middlesex
Died 07 January 1960 in Kensington, London
Married Robert Lambert Chambers, 6 April 1907 in Ealing.
[Active late 1898-1928]
Often considered the best female before 1919. Wimbledon champion in 1903-1904, 1906, 1910-11, and 1913-14. 1908 Olympic champion.
Her record of 7 Wimbledon Championships stood until eclipsed when Helen Wills-Moody won her 8th in 1938. Though after marriage her last name was Chambers, her husband's middle name was usually added, thus she is often known as Mrs Lambert Chambers. In this era of formality only good friends would call her "Dolly" or Dorothea. In keeping with her time Mrs Chambers refused to divulge her year of birth until her death.
A parson's daughter, as Miss Douglass she was very good but not a world conquer until well into her mid twenties. Some of this may have been due to her late start-taking up the sport at the Ealing Club at age 11 though not playing a formal adult tournament until her 20th year. in 1898.
One suspects her normally placid demeanor masked great determination. As a student at Princess Helen College she once got into trouble for arguing with a school mistress who was umpiring a match. (Little, p. 2).
As the Hillyard and Sterry era faded Dorothea took control of women's tennis in Britain. From her first Wimbledon title of 1903 until 1914 Dorothea would win 7 titles in 10 attempts. Of her 3 defeats at Wimbledon two came to May Sutton. Dorothea lost to Sutton in 1904, won in 1905, and was defeated again in 1906.
Miss Douglass was married to Robert Lambert Chambers in 1907. The ceremony was performed by her father. In 1909 she skipped the Championships to give birth to son Douglass on the 15th of June. She used the rest of the year to work on her book Lawn Tennis For Ladies
. Speculation that her tennis days were over was premature. After 18 months Dorothea returned to tennis in triumph.
Her 1910 return victory at Wimbledon set off a two year run in which she went undefeated. No other mother would repeat the feat until 1980 when Evonne Goolagong won as a "mum". In late 1911 she took a second hiatus from tennis, giving birth to 2nd son Graham Lambert on 08 April 1912.
Intending on defending her Wimbledon title, she defaulted in the challenge round after a tough mixed doubles match proved too tiring. Later that summer she retired at a set apiece in at Felixstowe versus Agnes Morton. This was her first singles defeat since 1909. On her return in 1913 she again went undefeated for that year and throughout 1914.
Mrs Chambers won her 7th Wimbledon in 1914, a record at that time. No challenger was on the horizon, but war intervened, depriving her of any chance to add to the total until she was aged 40.
It was in seeking her 8th title that Chambers, more than 40 years of age, had her most famous match. Still the defending champion from 1914, she "sat out" to await the winner of the All-Comers event. Before an audience that included the King and Queen of England Chambers failed to convert two match balls. It was the closest Suzanne Lenglen ever came to losing a singles at Wimbledon. The score was 10-8 4-6 9-7. Chambers made the final again the next year. This was at the age of 41, making her the oldest singles finalist in history. In her 15 singles tried Chambers either won or lost to the eventual winner every time except for 1900.
A fine sense of strategy was complemented by a fine forehand. Mrs Chambers also possessed a deadly drop shot. Accurate, there were no real weaknesses for foes to exploit. Iron-willed, she was a feared competitor.
83 Singles ttles
57 Doubles titles
58 Mixed titles
In 1928 Mrs Chambers became a teaching professional.
A severe and stern visage.
In action in 1919 vs Suzanne Lenglen-in the background is a roller to roll the grass.
Dorothea Chambers: Seven Times Wimbledon Champion.
by Alan Chambers. 1985 [32 pages] [Easily the best source]
Tennis for Ladies,
(1910) by Dorothea Lambert Chambers [link to full text below]
Archive - Draws Archive : Dorothea Chambers (Douglass) - 2015 Wimbledon Championships Website - Official Site by IBM
Dorothea Lambert Chambers
[A Blast Thread which includes career results]
Suzanne Lenglen d. Dorothea Lambert Chambers 10-8, 4-6, 9-7; 1919 Wimbledon
[A Blast Thread by Newmark about this classic match]