• John Jantak

Hudson resident donates tennis history to Wimbledon


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Hudson resident Susan Mercer donated a century-old tennis trophy to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum last week to commemorate the victory made by her great aunt Agnes Morton and partner Elizabeth Ryan who won the Ladies Tournament in 1914.

A century-old historic piece of Wimbledon tennis history returned to London, England, last week through a generous donation that was made by Hudson resident Susan Mercer.

Mercer, whose great aunt Agnes Morton won the Ladies Doubles in 1914 with her American partner, Elizabeth Ryan, decided to donate Morton’s trophy to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum in London in honour of the 100th anniversary of their victory.

“The trophy wasn’t left to me but it came to me eventually,” Morton told Your Local Journal during an interview at her home on June 17. “It’s a larger silver salver that weighs about three pounds of sterling silver and it’s engraved ‘The World’s Lawn Tennis Championship on grass, Ladies Doubles, 1914; Won by Miss A.M. Morton and Miss E.M. Ryan’.”

Rather than assume responsibility for bringing the piece herself, Mercer opted to have it sent to Wimbledon by courier. It safely arrived last week. In exchange for her gift, Mercer received two centre court tickets for the finals on Saturday, July 5.

“This means I’ll be able to see the Ladies Singles, Ladies Doubles and Men’s Doubles all on the same day,” said Mercer. “I’ll be taking my brother and like he says, ‘we’ll be really knackered by the end of the day.”

Mercer said she was motivated to donate the trophy to commemorate Morton’s accomplishment because, “No one else in the family is tennis oriented. It just seemed like it was the proper thing to do and the rest of the family thought it was great, that I should give it to the museum.”

Morton already was an accomplished and victorious tennis player, almost 20 years older than Ryan, who was 22 when they won the championship. It was only the second time an official Ladies Doubles tournament was held at Wimbledon after it was introduced as a Championship event along with Mixed Doubles the previous year in 1913, said Mercer.

Morton had twice reached the Singles finals at the Wimbledon Championships in 1908 and 1909. She also competed and finished fourth in Ladies Lawn Tennis at the 1908 Summer Olympics in London.

PHOTOS COURTESY SUSAN MERCER

The sterling tray, known as a salver, is engraved with the date of the century-old win and now sits safely back home in London, England.

The advent of World War I in late July 1914 meant Wimbledon was cancelled for the next four years until 1918. When play resumed in 1919, Morton could no longer participate in competitive tennis after she sustained an eye injury during the stoppage.

Mercer fondly recalled her great aunt with tales of the time Morton took her on a personalized tour of the Wimbledon grounds and both her and Morton’s decision not to get married until later in life.

“Another thing she always said was, ‘I’m never going to get married until I’m too old to have children’ and she did,” said Mercer. “She married a widowed Irish baronet by the name of Brigadier General Sir Hugh Stewart so she became Lady Stewart and that was not until she was 53. So I never remember anything about her except as Lady Stewart.”

Morton died in 1952 at age 70. Mercer recounted that Ryan passed away at Wimbledon in 1979 at age 87, just one day before Billie Jean King surpassed Ryan’s record by winning her 20th title that year.

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