To continue my series on British women who have proved themselves in the Olympic Games or are strong hopes for 2012, today’s subject is Charlotte Cooper.
Charlotte Cooper may not be at all familiar to you. She is, however, an unsung British Olympic legend from the early part of the last century. Born in Ealing she was a member of the Ealing Tennis Club and won her first Wimbledon Championship in 1895. She would go on to win four more.
Charlotte won the Olympic tennis title (there weren’t medals in 1904) in Paris in 1900, becoming the first woman to win anything at an Olympics. She followed this up with a second gold medal, winning the mixed doubles with partner Reginald Doherty.
These extraordinary achievements are made all the more impressive when you consider that the kit for female tennis in those days was an ankle length dress and shirt.
On 12 January 1901 she married Alfred Sterry with who she had a son, Rex, in 1903 and a daughter, Gwynn, in 1905. Her daughter also went on to compete at Wimbledon. That year she captured the Wimbledon championship for the fourth time. After time off for family, she returned to active tennis, winning her fifth Wimbledon singles title in 1908 at the age of 37 years 282 days, an age record that still stands. In 1912, at age 41 she was still one of the best players in the game and that year once again made it to the Wimbledon finals.
As many of you will kmow, every year I organise a dinner for London delegates at Labour Party Conference. This year it was the biggest ever and very enjoyable, as you can see from the photos. I certainly had a good time eating Chinese and drinking white wine and I hope everyone else did too. Sitting round chatting in congenial surroundings makes all the difference and allows us to get to know each other outside Labour Party meetings.
There was a very positive atmosphere of anticipation, partly I think because the dinner took place after the announcement of the leadership results but before the new Leader’s speech.
The good feeling also, I am sure, reflected the outstanding results the London Borough elections earlier this year. All those who worked to make the London results so good deserve hearty congratulations from all of us.
It was especially good to welcome councillors Ranjit Dheer from Ealing; Althea Smith and Sunil Chopra from Southwark; Colin and Jason Ellar from Hounslow; John Paschoud and Stella Jeffrey (and her husband Kevin) from Lewisham and Adam Harrison from Camden, all of whom were parts of teams which surged to victory wresting control of each council. Since Colin works for me part-time and Adam has been on the staff team in the past, I was especially pleased at their results.
It would be remiss not to mention another Councillor, John Gray, a fellow blogger and UNISON activist who spoke at my fringe meeting. Also present was Naomi Phillips who does public affairs for the British Humanist Association. Since I can’t name everyone, I hope those who haven’t had a mention will understand.
A very big thank you to all who came along and very best wishes for the year ahead.