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Dora Boothby

tennis player
Full name: Penelope Dora Harvey Boothby
Alias: Mrs A.C.Geen
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Bio Daughter of Laurence John Boothby (1848-1887) and Gertrude Butler (1849-1941).She was close in age to her sister Gertrude May Boothby (1878-1969). Called "Penel" as a child according to ancestry, by her adult tennis playing days she was known as "Dora".
Boothby was born in Finchley and, together with her older sister Gertrude, lived there with her step-parents, Harry and Gertrude Penn. Harry was a civil engineer, and by 1901, they had moved to South Norwood, where she played at Beulah Hill Club, and during the winter months, she played badminton.
Boothby was listed amongst the top-ranked players of Great Britain in 1904-coming in at the second tier in the 15 to 20 range.Dora habitually gave up tennis in the winter months, keeping in shape by playing badminton. She confessed to suffering from "centre-courtis", or
nerves.

In 1908 she won a silver medal in the women's singles event at the 1908 Summer Olympics.
In 1909 Boothby realised she that year was a big chance at the Championships, as Dorothea Lambert Chambers was sidelined by childbirth and holder Charlotte Sterry was not defending her title.
Dora became Wimbledon Champion only after a nailbiting victory over Agnes Morton 6-4 4-6 8-6 in the final. A contemporary report noted the match was 'remarkable for its tension and protracted rallies. There have been more scientific, more stroke varied ladies finals, at Wimbledon but none in which the result hung so long in the balance or in which the combatants showed such hardihood and resolution.'
Here is Boothby's description of her victory from the Chambers book. She won despite serving 16 double faults in the match!

In 1909 when she won the Ladies' Singles at Wimbledon, the runner-up of the Men's Singles, Josiah Ritchie, was also living in Norwood.
Additionally that year she won the singles title of the British Covered Court Championships, played on wood courts at the Queen's Club in London, after defeating Madeline O’Neill in the final in straight sets.
1909 Wimbledon champion and titlist in the 1913 ladies doubles with Winifred McNair. In 1911 she became the first female player to lose a Wimbledon final without winning a game, losing to Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers 6–0, 6–0.

Chambers rated her as a primarily a baseliner-the most common style in the pre-war era. In 1908 Dora showed "considerable improvement," according to the Times, which noted how her shots barely cleared the net with plenty of speed. (Saturday, Jun 05, 1909; pg. 18). This style was effective when she was "on", but when off the low margin for errors produced a slew of errors.

"Without a doubt, my most exciting match was the final last year at Wimbledon. In every player's heart, there must be a faint hope that one day she may win the All England Championship. At least it has always been in mine.
From Christmas and all through the spring, my family and friends had dinned into my ears that now was my chance, and if I did not win this year, I never would. Only when I was leading one set up and 2-love in the second did all these things flash across my mind. I suddenly got nervous. Oh, the misery of it! I served double fault after double fault (I learned afterwards that I gave away sixteen points in this way), and my friends told me that it was a relief to them when my service went over the net at all, however slowly. My opponent, Miss Morton, caught up, won the set 6/4, and led me 4/2 in the final set. All this time I had been fighting hard to regain confidence. At last, my nerve came back--I was determined to win, and, only after a very great effort, just succeeded in capturing the Championship with the narrow margin of 8/6 in the final set.
It was not until I had finished and had come off the court that I realized how very excited I had been, and how relieved I was when it was all over. Only those who have had the experience can know how exhausting it is to concentrate one's whole thoughts and efforts, without cessation, for an hour or more. Fortunately, you do not feel the strain until afterward when it does not matter, and then you can look back with very great pleasure and satisfaction on a hard-won fight.
Beaten the next by Dorothe Lambert Chambers 6-2 6-2, Boothby returned in 1911, fought through the All-Comers to reach the challenge Round, and was then utterly obliterated by Chambers 6-0 6-0. This record for the most lopsided ladies' final was unmatched until Steffi Graf beat Natasha Zvereva 6-0 6-0 in the 1988 French final.
The final was over in 25 minutes. Chambers is devastating. "She never played better and, as usual, her marvelous headwork, rather than the actual force of her stroke, gave her victory." Boothby never gave up, 4 times extending games to deuce. Both the score and the time remain Wimbledon records. "

Dora and partner Winifred Mcnair became the first ladies doubles champions of Wimbledon in 1913. They were somewhat lucky, as Dorothea Lambert Chambers and Charlotte Sterry had to retire leading 6-4 4-2 when Sterry pulled up lame with a torn leg tendon.

Married in 1914, Dora and Arthur Geen had at least one child. His family name is often incorrectly listed as "Green." Slowing down after World War I-her last Wimbledon was in 1922.

In 1929 Mrs. Geen designed the first official Wightman Cup team jackets and traveled with the team to the US. The design was white cloth with silver buttons and has a Union Jack with crossed racquets underneath emblazoned on the breast pocket.

Mrs. Bootby turned professional in 1932, allowing her to charge pupils for money in teaching tennis.
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