Class of 1981
Grand Slam Results
7-time Wimbledon Champion, and 9-time finalist at the same event
Gold Medal in Women’s Singles at the 1908 London Olympic Games
Member of the British Wightman Cup Team 1925-1926
Member of the winning British Wightman Cup Team 1925
Dorothea Lambert Chambers was such as dominating force on the grass at Wimbledon that two of her seven championship victories rank among the 17 most lopsided women’s finals in history. The fact that they came seven years apart may just be a numerical coincidence, but there was no mistaking that Chambers was an opponent to be feared at the All England Club. She was a finalist 12 times, tied for second best in history with Martina Navratilova, behind Blanche Bingley Hillyard’s 13 trips. In her twenty years playing at Wimbledon, Chambers hardly lost, compiling a 32-8 record in singles, 29-11 mark in doubles and 24-11 in mixed play. Her seven singles championships ranks third best in history (currently, Serena Williams is tied with her) behind Navratilova (9) and Helen Wills Moody (8).
In 1903, Chambers won the first of her Wimbledon crowns, defeating Brit Ethel Thomson Larcombe in three rare sets, and needed a comeback effort to claim the championship. Chambers prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, and must have abhorred going the distance. Her next six championships were all completed in straight sets and she yielded just 29 games. In 1904, she bounced Charlotte Cooper Sterry from the winner’s circle 6-0, 6-3. In 1911, she demolished Dora Boothby, 6-0, 6-0. Both Thomson (1912) and Boothby (1909) would win Wimbledon Ladies Championships, but when they faced the athletic Chambers they were no match. When she shut out Boothby, she became the first player to win a major singles final without dropping a game.
Douglass won seven of her Wimbledon titles against five different opponents, knocking out American May Sutton Bundy in 1906 (6-3, 9-7), Boothby in 1910 (6-2, 6-2), Winifred Slocock McNair in 1913 (6-0, 6-4), and Ethel Thomson Larcombe in 1914 (7-5, 6-4).
Chambers was a Wimbledon finalist in 1905, 1907, 1912, 1919, and 1920. Sutton defeated her 6-3, 6-4 in 1905 and again in 1907, 6-1, 6-4. The incomparable Suzanne Lenglen earned the first of her five straight championships in dramatic fashion in 1919, holding off Chambers in three sets, 10-8, 4-6, 9-7. Chambers was trailing 4-1, and staged a remarkable comeback in a match historians say ranks among the all-time best on Centre Court. Chambers used her resourceful all-court game and reliable backcourt strokes to surge ahead 6-5, and was serving up 40-15. Lenglen miraculously recovered and eked out the match. When the pair met again in the 1920 final, Lenglen squashed any notion of a long, drawn out match, winning convincingly, 6-3, 6-0. The 41-year-old Chambers made history as the oldest female Wimbledon finalist.
Chambers played in three Wimbledon Ladies Doubles finals (1913, 1919, 1920) and one in mixed doubles (1919) final. She failed to secure a title, however: the closest she came was in 1919, teaming with Larcombe in a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 loss against Lenglen and American Elizabeth Ryan. In a twist of fate, she lost the 1919 mixed doubles final partnered with Albertem Prebble to Ryan and Randolph Lycett, 6-0, 6-0.
At age 46, she was still actively slugging it out, playing on the 1925 Wightman Cup team. Chambers helped her team secure a 4-3 victory with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Eleanor Gross, who was 16 years younger than Chambers. At the 1908 Olympic Games in London, both indoor and outdoor tennis was played, and Chambers won the outdoor Gold Medal defeating fellow Brit Dora Booth.
Chambers authored Lawn Tennis for Ladies, first published in London in 1910. It was both a written and pictorial reference book on how to hit all the tennis shots with detailed explanations.
Wimbledon: W 1903, 1904, 1906, 1910, 1911, 1913, 1914
U.S. Nationals: QF 1925
Wimbledon: F 1913, 1919, 1920
U.S. Nationals: SF 1925
Wimbledon: F 1919
U.S. Nationals: QF 1925