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|Mary Ewing Outerbridge|
February 16, 1852|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||May 3, 1886
New Brighton, New York, U.S.
|Resting place||Silver Mount Cemetery, New York, U.S.|
|Known for||Introducing tennis to the U.S.|
|Parent(s)||Alexander Ewing Outerbridge (1816-1900)
Laura Catherine Harvey (1818-1867)
|Relatives||Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge, brother|
Mary was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Bermudians Alexander Ewing Outerbridge (1816-1900) and Laura Catherine Harvey (1818-1867), who had married in Paget, Bermuda, in 1840, and had moved their growing family to the United States from Pembroke, Bermuda, before her birth. Four of her siblings had been born in Bermuda: Albert Albouy Outerbridge (1841-); Sir Joseph Outerbridge (1843-1933); August Emelius Outerbridge (1846-January 14, 1921); Catherine Tucker Outerbridge (1846-). Her other siblings were Harriett Harvey Outerbridge; Alexander Ewing Outerbridge II; Laura Catharine Outerbridge; Adolph John Harvey Outerbridge (1858-May 29, 1928) and Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge, who was the first president of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The modern game of lawn tennis was first commercialized in 1874 in England by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield of the British Army. One of the Major's men brought the rules for the game and the equipment with him when he was posted to the Bermuda Garrison in 1874. Mary played the game at "Clermont", her family's house with a large flat lawn in Paget parish in Bermuda. In 1874 Mary returned from Bermuda aboard the ship "S.S. Canima" and introduced lawn tennis to the United States. She set up the first tennis court in the United States on the grounds of the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club, which was near where the Staten Island Ferry Terminal is today. The club was founded on or about March 22, 1872. She played the first tennis game in the US against her sister Laura in Staten Island, New York, on an hourglass-shaped court.
In 1880 the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club held "the tournament for the championship of America". The match was won by O. E. Woodhouse of England who was in New York at the time.
In 1874, a Staten Island resident, Mary Ewing Outerbridge, was visiting relatives in Bermuda. She encountered a recent invention of an Englishman, Maj. Walter C. Wingfield, who had adapted an ancient ball sport. The adapted game was first played at a garden party in Wales in December 1873 and had just arrived in Bermuda, where British Army officers were playing it. In early 1874 Miss Outerbridge brought back from Bermuda a net, balls and rackets, and specifications for the size of the courts. The strange gear was confiscated by customs agents. Her brother A. Emilius Outerbridge, a shipping executive, used his pull to get the gear released. He was also an officer of the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club in St George, and that spring, his sister set up her court there. A national tournament was played on Staten Island on September 1, 1880. The overhand serve had not been invented, and the game resembled badminton. The cricket club's remaining grounds were converted to public courts in 1931. ...
The single games in the lawn-tennis tournament at Camp Washington, Staten Island, were concluded yesterday, and the handsome silver cup presented for competition by the Staten Island ...
In an article in American Lawn Tennis for April 20, Malcolm D. Whitman comes to the conclusion that the beginning of the game in the United States must be credited to Mary Ewing Outerbridge of ...
In 1874, a lively girl named Mary Ewing Outerbridge paid a visit to Bermuda. There British Army officers taught her a game which was becoming a polite fad in England. When she returned to the U. S., Mary Outerbridge brought with her a net suitable for minnow-fishing, several strange-looking, gut-strung bats and a rule book. She had her net pegged up on the grounds of the Staten Island Cricket & Baseball Club, set about teaching her family how to play tennis. Seven years later, when the game was being played at 33 U. S. clubs, her brother, Eugenius H. Outerbridge, helped form the U. S. Lawn Tennis Association which drafted rules and held the first national tournament at Newport, Rhode Island. The winner was a spry young Bostonian with a fierce eye and an underhand serve, Richard Dudley Sears. He too could lay claim to being one of the very first U. S. lawn tennis players. In 1874 his brother had brought a set and a rule book from England, set up the net on an hourglass shaped court on their uncle's place at Nahant, Massachusetts. ...