LAMBERT CHAMBERS, Dorothea (1878-1960)
Plaque erected in 2005 by English Heritage at 7 North Common Road, Ealing, London, W5 2QB, London Borough of Ealing
Lawn Tennis Player
DOROTHEA LAMBERT CHAMBERS 1878-1960 Lawn Tennis Champion lived here 1887-1907
The outstanding tennis player of the decade before the First World War, Dorothea Lambert Chambers remains the only British woman to have won the Wimbledon Championships seven times.
The commemorated address at 7 North Common Road, Ealing, is the vicarage for St Matthew’s Church next door and was Dorothea’s home for 20 years. Her clergyman father, the Rev. Henry Charles Douglass, moved his family to the newly built house in 1887, the walls of which are said to have been used by the young Dorothea for hitting practice. She moved out on her marriage to Robert Lambert Chambers, a merchant. The ceremony was conducted by her father at St Matthew’s and the couple spent a further ten years in Ealing at Bryn-y-Mor, 12 Queen’s Road before moving to central London.
Lambert Chambers displayed an early love of lawn tennis, which was much encouraged by her family. In 1896, at the age of 17, she entered her first tournament, competed in three meetings during 1898, and joined the Ealing Lawn Tennis Club in 1899. By this time, she was an excellent player, with superb command of the ball, impressive tactical skills and remarkable accuracy.
Lambert Chambers made her Wimbledon début in 1900 and by 1904 had established herself as the leading female player in England, if not the world. She dominated the sport, winning the Wimbledon singles title seven times between 1903 and 1914. This remains the record for a Briton and, on the international scoreboard, puts her behind only Helen Wills Moody and Martina Navratilova. Between 1903 and 1910 Lambert Chambers also won the Wimbledon ladies’ doubles twice and the mixed doubles on three occasions.
In 1919, at the age of 40, Mrs Lambert Chambers – as she was known after her marriage of 1907 – narrowly lost a legendary final to Suzanne Lenglen, a Frenchwoman half her age, who had the temerity to play in an outfit that revealed not only her forearms but her ankles as well. The match has since been called one of the finest ladies’ singles matches of all time.
In addition to her Wimbledon titles, she was awarded an Olympic gold medal for the ladies’ singles in 1908, was a badminton champion and played hockey for Middlesex. Lambert Chambers went on to captain the British Wightman Cup team and to work as a coach.