Class of 1980
World No. 1 (1898)
Grand Slam Results
16-time major champion, 4-time finalist
First Place in Men’s Singles at the 1900 Paris Olympic Games
First Place in Men’s Doubles at the 1900 Paris Olympic Games
Third Place in Mixed Doubles at the 1900 Paris Olympic Games
Member of the British Isles Davis Cup Team, 1902-1906
Member of the British Isles Championship Davis Cup Team 1903-1906
Overall Record: 12-0
Overall Singles Record: 7-0
Overall Doubles Record: 5-0
Whether by design or pure luck, Hugh Laurence Doherty lived on Hatfield Road, conveniently located near the main bus station eight miles away from the All England Club. While it’s not known whether Doherty walked, biked, or took public transportation to Wimbledon – bus routes were introduced in London in July, 1829 – this much we do know: Doherty dominated the early proceedings at Wimbledon like no other in history, winning five straight singles and eight straight doubles titles with older brother Reggie.
“Laurie” or “Little Do,” as he was called, captured six major singles titles (five Wimbledon, one U.S.). Doherty’s impressive string of Wimbledon titles didn’t exactly start as planned. Reggie Doherty defeated him in the 1898 final in a marathon battle of strokes, 6-3, 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1. It took four years for Laurence to make a return appearance and in four sets ousted fellow Brit Arthur Gore, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0.
Three of his championships came against different opponents. He defeated fellow Brit Frank Riseley in the 1903, 1904, and 1906 Wimbledon final. Two of the three went straight sets, but Riesley wouldn’t let Doherty escape his final Wimbledon easily, pushing him in a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 loss. In 1903, American William Larned lost the chance to defend his native major title, falling to Doherty, 6-0, 6-3, 10-8, earning Laurence the distinction of becoming the first tennis player in history to win a singles major outside their home turf.
The August 28 New York Times reported that weather conditions on that memorable day were “fair and warm.” Both players were said to be in good shape and without explanation the match was late in starting, well after 11 a.m. Doherty broke Larned in the opening game and continued to play balls against the American’s backhand, his weaker side, throughout the match. The match was “of a highly spectacular nature, and several times the ball was kept in the air for a prolonged period, the point being earned by a pretty place or smash by the men.”
Doherty won a Wimbledon title in 1905, defeating Aussie Norman Brookes in straight sets, 8-6, 6-2, 6-4.
When it came to doubles competition, Laurie and Reggie dominated championships, winning eight Wimbledon titles, two U.S. titles, and playing for two other Wimbledon titles. In their ten victories, the brothers dropped just four sets and were pushed to a fifth set just once – the 1900 Wimbledon final against compatriots Herbert Roper Barrett and Harold Nisbet – the Dohertys winning 9-7, 7-5, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3. The duo’s record eight championships and ten straight finals appearances had only two nicks – a 1902 loss to Brits Sidney Smith and Riseley 6-4, 6-8, 3-6, 6-4, 9-11) and again in 1906 (8-6, 4-6, 7-5, 3-6, 3-6). Back-to-back U.S. titles were won in 1902 and 1903, both coming rapidly in straight sets.
Doherty played various tournaments in New Zealand, Scotland, Germany, and France, and in July 1900 won First Place (no medals were awarded until 1904) in both singles and doubles at the Olympic Games in Paris. The singles victory showcased Doherty’s prowess on a worldwide stage, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 over fellow Brit Harold Mahoney. The doubles victory was shared with brother, Reggie, over the mixed national team of American Basil Spalding de Garmendia and France’s Max Decugis.
Perfection was achieved in Davis Cup competition; Doherty played on the Great Britain team for five years, compiling an unblemished 12-0 record (7-0 in singles, 5-0 in doubles) and led the team to championships in 1903, 1904, 1905, and 1906. The 1903 title was the first for the British Isles.
The brothers co-wrote R.F. and H.L. Doherty on Lawn Tennis (1903), one of the leading historical publications on the game. They were newsmakers themselves, prominently featured in Ernest C. Elliott’s Fifty Leaders of British Sport: A Series of Portraits, published in 1904.
Doherty’s sportsmanship was pronounced. In his obituary, the Times of London wrote, “He played an English game in the spirit in which Englishmen think games should be played.”
Wimbledon: W 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906
U.S. Nationals: W 1903
Wimbledon: W 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1903, 1904, 1905
U.S. Nationals: W 1902, 1903