The Jersey's family's Wimbledon champion

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The Jersey family's Wimbledon champion


W21MaySutton3.jpg

This Wikipedia photograph is usefully captioned 'May Sutton holding racket'


May Sutton, who won the Wimbledon Ladies Singles in 1905 and 1907, was described as American and the first non-British winner of the championship. But she was born in Plymouth, England, and both her parents, as well as two older siblings, were born in Jersey


May Sutton in action

Family

May Sutton was born on 25 September 1886 in Plymouth, England, the youngest of seven children of Adolphus De Gruchy Sutton, a captain in the Royal Navy, and Adeline Esther Godfray. Adolphus was born in Jersey in 1836, the son of Charles Thomas Sutton, of Kent, who also served in the Royal Navy. He married Marie Anne Le Boutillier (1800-1871) at St John, Jersey, in 1813. Adolphus was their only child. He married Adelina Esther Godfray (1850-1930) in St Helier on 6 May 1873.

Their first child, Adele Laura, was born the following year but did not survive. She was followed by Charles Thomas (1875-1948). The family then moved to Plymouth, where further children Henry (1877-1900), Ethel Matilda (1881-1957), Violet Maud (1881-1957) and then Florence in 1883 and May in 1886.

When May was six years old, her family moved again, this time to a ranch near Pasadena, California. It was there that she and her sisters played tennis on a court built by her father, who became an American citizen. While still at school, May, Violet, Florence and Ethel dominated the California tennis circuit. In addition to being accomplished tennis players, the girls were excellent basketball players. May, Florence and Violet were all in the Pasadena High School basketball team, which went undefeated in 1900.

US Champion

In 1904, at age 17, May Sutton won the singles title at the US Championships at the first attempt. She also teamed with Miriam Hall to win the women's doubles title and came close to making it a clean sweep by reaching the mixed doubles final.

Wimbledon

She was unable to defend her US title as she traveled to England in May 1905 to compete in the Wimbledon Championships. In June she won the grass court Northern Championships in Manchester, defeating Hilda Lane in the final.

She was described as the first American and first non-British woman to win the Wimbledon singles title when she beat British star and reigning two-time Wimbledon champion Dorothea Douglass Chambers in the challenge round. She did it while shocking the British audience by rolling up her sleeves to bare her elbows and wearing a skirt that showed her ankles. For the next two years, she and Chambers met in the final, with Chambers recapturing the title in 1906 and Sutton winning it back in 1907.

Marriage

On 11 December 1912 she married Tom Bundy, who was a three-time winner of the men's doubles title at the US Championships, and semi-retired to raise a family. However, in 1921 at the age of 35, she made a comeback and became the fourth-ranked player in the US. In 1925 she was a women's doubles finalist at the US Championships and, although almost forty years of age, her game was strong enough to be selected for America's Wightman Cup team. She was a Wimbledon quarter-finalist in 1929 at the age of 42, which was the first time she had played Wimbledon since 1907.

In 1928 and 1929 she and her daughter, Dorothy Cheney, became the only mother/daughter combination to be seeded at the US Championships. Her nephew, John Doeg, won the US Championships in 1930, and in 1938, daughter Dorothy won the Australian Championships.

In 1956 May Sutton was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She never stopped playing tennis and was playing regularly well into her late 80s. She died on 4 October 1975 in Santa Monica, California.

Sister

Although not as successful as May, her elder sister Florence was also a highly accomplished tennis player. She was a finalist for both singles and doubles titles in the US Championship in 1911. In the singles final, she lost to Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman in three sets. She achieved a highest national ranking of No 2 in 1914.

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