Lottie Dod

(1871—1960) sportswoman

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(1871–1960) An English all-round sportswoman whose myriad achievements in a range of sports and longevity of performance embodied the enthusiasm and ethos of the amateur code and era. Born into a wealthy northern English family of merchants and bankers, Lottie, the youngest child, was raised in a culture of privilege, inducted into a life of leisure, and had an independent income for life. Her cocooned family life as a child and a young woman included private education by hired tutors and governesses, and regular sporting encounters in country house games such as bowls, billiards, archery, croquet, golf, skating, and tennis. Her brother William was a gold medal winner for archery—aged 40—at the 1908 London Olympics. Playing tennis from the age of 9, Lottie Dod was challenging the champion of Wimbledon at a north of England tournament at the age of 13, becoming Wimbledon champion herself at the age of 15. Dod retired from competitive tennis in 1893, having won five titles, though choosing not to defend her title in 1889, as she was already committed to a yachting holiday. As traditionally amateur and privileged as her background might have been, Dod nevertheless dominated through modern techniques of play, mixing volleys, overheads (smashes), and spin in an athletic approach to the game for which, to enhance mobility, she wore shorter skirts than was the orthodoxy of the time.

After her tennis career, Dod took up cycling and golf; and wintered (1895–6) among the fashionable upper classes in the Alps, tobogganing and mountaineering. Persevering at golf, she won the British Ladies' Championship in 1904. She had also played hockey for England in 1899 and 1900, before adopting archery prior to the London 1908 Olympics, where she took the silver medal. After her competitive sporting life, Dod mixed service to sport in a voluntary capacity for clubs and associations with involvement in musical circles, also undertaking youth work; she lived a life of privileged leisure and disinterested altruism to the end, reputedly listening to the broadcast of the Wimbledon tournament on her deathbed. Dod's precocious and prodigious achievements can be seen as both epitome and apogee of the amateur ethos in women's sport.

From A Dictionary of Sports Studies in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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