Herbert Lawford

Herbert Fortescue Lawford (15 May 1851 – 20 April 1925) was a former world No. 1 tennis player from Scotland who won the Men's Singles championship at Wimbledon in 1887, and was runner-up a record 5 times (shared with Arthur Gore).

Herbert Lawford
19th century Tennis champions.jpg
Lawford, standing, on the right side
Full nameHerbert Fortescue Lawford
Country (sports)United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Born(1851-05-15)15 May 1851
Bayswater, England
Died20 April 1925(1925-04-20) (aged 73)
Dess, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Height1.80 m (5 ft 11 in)
Turned pro1878 (amateur tour)
PlaysRight-handed (one-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HoF2006 (member page)
Career titles17[1]
Highest rankingNo. 1 (1887, ITHF)[2]
Grand Slam Singles results
WimbledonW (1887)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Wimbledon1R (1884)


The 5th round All Comers' match between H.F. Lawford (left) and W. C. Renshaw at Wimbledon, won by Renshaw who went on to claim the All Comers' title on 12 July 1881.

In the 1887 final, the native of Bayswater defeated Ernest Renshaw (also of Great Britain) in five sets: 1–6, 6–3, 3–6, 6–4, 6–4. He reached the finals of Wimbledon in 1880, 1884–86, and 1888.

Lawford won the first major men's doubles tennis tournament, the Oxford University Men's Doubles Championship, in 1879 partnering Lestocq Robert Erskine.[3] This event was a precursor to the Wimbledon men's doubles championship, introduced in 1884, and it was played over the best of seven sets ending in a score of 4–6, 6–4, 6–5, 6–2, 3–6, 5–6, 7–5.[a] In 1885 he won the singles title at the inaugural British Covered Court Championships.

Birth of the topspin: the Lawford-strokeEdit

Lawford is said to be the first person to introduce "topspin" to the game of tennis. His formidable forehand was called 'the Lawford stroke'. Lawford made a more substantial contribution in technically advancing the game. He unveiled the “Lawford forehand,” introducing topspin into the sport with that revolutionary shot. Aggressive and unwavering, he was equipped with power, speed and uncanny accuracy. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2006.[2]

Grand Slam finalsEdit

Singles (1 title, 5 runners-up)Edit

Result Date Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Loss 1880 Wimbledon Championships Grass   John Hartley 3–6, 2–6, 6–2, 3–6
Loss 1884 Wimbledon Championships Grass   William Renshaw 0–6, 4–6, 7–9
Loss 1885 Wimbledon Championships Grass   William Renshaw 5–7, 2–6, 6–4, 5–7
Loss 1886 Wimbledon Championships Grass   William Renshaw 0–6, 7–5, 3–6, 4–6
Win 1887 Wimbledon Championships Grass   Ernest Renshaw 1–6, 6–3, 3–6, 6–4, 6–4
Loss 1888 Wimbledon Championships Grass   Ernest Renshaw 3–6, 5–7, 0–6


  1. ^ Some sources show the result of the final set as 10–8


  1. ^ "Herbert Fortescue Lawford: Stats". tennisrachives.com. Tennis Archives. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b "International Tennis Hall of Fame". www.tennisfame.com.
  3. ^ "Oxford University Lawn Tennis Club: 1879-1883". Norham Gardens Lawn Tennis Club.

External linksEdit