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Remembering 1890, the year of Irish champions at Wimbledon

Nowadays, we're not that used to winning titles at Wimbledon but back in 1890, that was a complet...



Remembering 1890, the year of...
Other Sports

Remembering 1890, the year of Irish champions at Wimbledon

Nowadays, we're not that used to winning titles at Wimbledon but back in 1890, that was a completely different story.

1890 was the year of the Irish at Wimbledon where in one tournament alone we managed to scoop the Ladies Singles, Mens Singles and the Mens Doubles titles.

Of course, we have to take into account that in 1890, Ireland still did remain under the control of the United Kingdom so officially, on Wimbledon lists, the winners are listed as Great Britain and not Ireland. But we're still going to claim it...

Lena Rice

The women's champion for 1890 was Lena Rice. She is, to date, the only Irishwoman to win the championship from Ireland.

Born in Clonmel Co. Tipperary, Lena was the youngest of seven children and learned to play tennis with her sister Anne before joining the Cahir Lawn Tennis Club.

Rice first competed in the Irish Championships in Dublin in 1889 before qualifying for Wimbledon only to lose in the final set, taking her opponent Blanche Bingley Hillyard to three sets.

The following year, with only four players competing for the Wimbledon title and her greatest opponent Hillyard pregnant, Rice took the title and the Wimbledon trophy.

Historian Turtle Bunbury says that on the day she wore a "full length dress with long sleeves, bustles, corsets and long petticoats, along with an ankle-length floral- skirt and a blouse tightly clinched to her waist".

He also credits her with introducing the forehand smash, leaping to smash the ball over the net.

Lena died of tuberculosis at 41 and is buried in New Inn.

Willoughby Hamilton

In the same year, Willoughby James Hamilton from Monasterevin in Co Kildare, became the first Irish man and the first non British player to win the Men's Singles Final.

Hamilton was ranked by many as one of the best tennis players in the world from 1889-1890.

However, that wasn't all there was to Willoughby. Educated at Trinity College Dublin, he played football for Dublin Association AFC, Dublin University AFC and even played international football against Wales.

Illness ended his career at an early age. He passed away on the 27 September 1943 in Dublin.

Joshua Pim and Frank Stoker

Yes, that name is Stoker and yes he is indeed related to the one and only Bram Stoker, he of Dracula fame. He is also the only rugby union player to win a Wimbledon championship. He was also a qualified dental surgeon.

A cousin of Bram, he was a member of the Landsdowne Lawn Tennis Club and won the doubles championship along with Pim in 1890 and 1893.

Pim, his tennis partner, a doctor from Dublin, also took the men's singles championship in 1893.

As a sidepoint, his family were descended from a Quaker family who apparently introduced the Pimm's fruit cup.

Joshua Pim, men's singles champion in 1893 and 1894

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