Charlotte Cooper

Charlotte Cooper

British tennis player
Date of Birth: 22.09.1870
Country: Great Britain

  1. Charlotte Cooper: The First Olympic Champion and Wimbledon Winner
  2. Rising to Success
  3. Later Life and Legacy

Charlotte Cooper: The First Olympic Champion and Wimbledon Winner

British tennis player Charlotte Cooper was the first-ever Olympic champion among women and a five-time winner of the Wimbledon tournament. She was born on September 22, 1870, in Walham Lodge, Ealing, Middlesex, England. Charlotte Cooper learned to play tennis at the Ealing Lawn Tennis Club, where she was initially coached by H. Lawrence and later by Charles Martin and Harold Mahony.

Rising to Success

In 1893, Cooper won her first major singles title in Ilkley. From 1893 to 1917, she participated in 21 Wimbledon tournaments. In her first appearance, she reached the semifinals but lost to Blanche Bingley Hillyard. She won her first singles title in 1895 by defeating Helen Jackson in the All-Comers final. Despite being down 0-5 in both sets, she managed to win them both. In 1896, she successfully defended her title in the Challenge Round against Alice Simpson Pickering. Between 1897 and 1901, the titles were shared between Cooper Sterry (1898, 1901) and Bingley Hillyard (1897, 1899, 1900). The rain-interrupted Challenge Round match in 1902 against Muriel Robb was replayed the next day, and Robb won 7-5, 6-1, in what was then the longest women's singles final in terms of games played.

As a mother of two children, Cooper Sterry won her final singles title in 1908, defeating Agnes Morton in straight sets in the All-Comers final at the age of 37. She remains the oldest women's singles champion at Wimbledon, and her record of eight consecutive singles finals was only broken in 1990 by Martina Navratilova. In addition to her singles titles, Cooper Sterry also won seven All-England titles in mixed doubles, five times with Harold Mahony (1894-1898), once with Laurence Doherty (1900), and once with Xenophon Casdagli (1908). In 1913, 18 years after winning her first Wimbledon title, she reached the final of the inaugural Wimbledon women's doubles tournament with Dorothea Douglass.

Cooper Sterry won the singles title at the Irish Lawn Tennis Championships in 1895 and 1898, prestigious tournaments of that time. At the 1900 Summer Olympics, where women competed for the first time, Cooper Sterry won the tennis competition in singles. On July 11, 1900, she defeated Hélène Prévost in straight sets, becoming the first Olympic champion in women's tennis and the first female Olympic champion overall. She also won the mixed doubles title with Reginald Doherty by defeating Prévost and Harold Mahony. In 1901, she won the German Championships and the Swiss Championship in singles.

Later Life and Legacy

On January 12, 1901, she married Alfred Sterry, a lawyer who later became the President of the Lawn Tennis Association. They had two children: Rex (born 1903), who served as the Vice President of the All England Club for 15 years in the 1960s and 1970s, and Gwen (born 1905), a tennis player who competed at Wimbledon and represented Great Britain in the Wightman Cup team. Cooper Sterry, who became deaf at the age of 26, passed away on October 10, 1966, in Helensburgh, Scotland, at the age of 96.

In 2013, she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Cooper Sterry had an aggressive playing style, attacking the net whenever an opportunity arose. She was one of the few female footballers of her time who worked on volleying. Her main strengths were resilience, temperament, and tactical abilities. Her excellent volleyball skills stood out at a time when it was still rare in women's tennis.