Full name: Maud Edith Eleanor Watson
|October 09, 1864 in Harrow, London, England
|June 05, 1946 in Charmouth, Dorset, England
|Born in Harrow, London, the daughter of a local vicar Henry William and Emily Frances Watson. She began playing competitive tennis in 1881, the year ladies’ open events were introduced in England. Her first public appearance was at the Edgbaston Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club tournament at only 16 years of age. It was a successful debut, winning the singles competition by defeating her sister Lilian in the final and winning the doubles competition together with her. In 1884 Maud participated in the Irish Ladies' Championship and defeated the reigning Irish champion May Langrishe 6–3, 6–2, 6–2. She was also victorious in the mixed doubles tournament winning the title with multiple Wimbledon champion William Renshaw.
Undefeated in tournament play, in 1884 the nineteen-year-old Watson won the first ever Ladies’ Singles title at Wimbledon. Playing in white corsets and petticoats, from a field of thirteen competitors she defeated her older sister Lillian Watson 6–8, 6–3, 6–3 in the final to claim the title and a silver flower basket valued at 20 Guineas. 1885 was a year of great success for Maud, who remained unbeaten in singles and lost only one set.Maud repeated her success at the 1885 Wimbledon championships. In a field of just 10 entries she easily won the quarter- and semi-finals and in the final defeated Blanche Bingley 6–1, 7–5. She successfully defended her title at the 1885 Irish Championships against Miss Louise Martin. For two sets there was little to choose between them but in the decider Maud outstayed her opponent to win 6–2, 4–6, 6–3. In 1886, the year the Challenge Round was introduced for women, Bingley turned the tables, defeating Watson 6–3, 6–3 in the finals to take the title. It was Maud's final match at Wimbledon.
In 1887 and 1888 she could not match her earlier level of success and was considerably handicapped by a sprained wrist which worsened with time. Her final competition came at the Edgebaston tournament in June 1889. She entered three events (doubles, mixed doubles and handicap singles) and won them all. While on holiday in Jersey she went swimming off the coast and nearly drowned. She was rescued with difficulty and suffered an illness afterwards which took a number of years to completely recover.
Watson worked as a nurse during the First World War for which she was rewarded as a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
Maud Watson died Hammersmead House at Charmouth on 5 June 1946, at the age of 81 and was laid to rest with her sister at St John the Bapist Parish church in Berkswell, near Solihull in Warwickshire, UK.