Plaque for Jesmond’s Wimbledon winner

The memory of Wimbledon winner Muriel Robb will be honoured tomorrow evening (14th June) when the Lord Mayor of Newcastle officially unveils a plaque at Jesmond Lawn Tennis Club on Osborne Road where she was a member.

Robb was Wimbledon Women’s Singles Champion in 1902 and was born in 1878 at a property on Haldane Terrace. While she was a member of the Jesmond club – founded in 1883 by members of the Jesmond Wesleyan Methodist Church and located initially on Fern Avenue – she won all the main national singles titles in England (Wimbledon), Ireland, Wales and Scotland, a feat that no man or woman had achieved before or has done since.

Robb played in the Wimbledon singles event four times, and was never less than a quarter-finalist. An unusual feature of her game was that she preferred to serve overhead, at a time when most women served underhand. And the 53 games played in her 1902 victory are a record for a women’s singles final at Wimbledon.

In 1903, Arthur Wallis Myers wrote the following about Robb in the book Lawn Tennis at Home and Abroad: “The lady champion’s style is a combination of grace, vigour and consistency, and she possesses that invaluable asset to all open competitors – a cool head.”

Robb returned to Jesmond after her tennis career had ended, and died there, of an unknown cause, in 1907, less than five years after her greatest triumph. Only 28 at the time of her death, no other winner of a singles title at Wimbledon has died at a younger age. She is buried in Jesmond Old Cemetery and it is reported that at her funeral the wreaths were so numerous that two lorries were needed to transport them.

Tomorrow’s unveiling will include a re-enactment of a 1900s tennis match with costumed players.