May Godfrey Sutton (September 25, 1886 – October 4, 1975) was an American tennis player who was active during the first decades of the 20th century. At age 16 she won the singles title at the U.S. National Championships and in 1905 she became the first American player to win the singles title at Wimbledon.

May Sutton
May Sutton in 1912
Full nameMay Godfrey Sutton Bundy
Country (sports) United States
Born(1886-09-25)September 25, 1886
Plymouth, England
DiedOctober 4, 1975(1975-10-04) (aged 88)
Santa Monica, California, US
Height5 ft 4.5 in (1.64 m)
Int. Tennis HoF1956 (member page)
Grand Slam singles results
French Open2R (1929)
WimbledonW (1905, 1907)
US OpenW (1904)
Grand Slam doubles results
US OpenW (1904)
Grand Slam mixed doubles results
US OpenF (1904)
May Sutton (between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915)
May Sutton



May Sutton was born on September 25, 1886[1][2][3] in Plymouth, England, the youngest of seven children of Adolphus DeGrouchy Sutton, a captain in the Royal Navy and Adeline Esther Godfray.[4][5] When she was six years old, Sutton's family moved to a ranch near Pasadena, California. It was there that she and her sisters played tennis on a court built by her father.[6] As young ladies, May and her sisters, Violet, Florence, and Ethel, dominated the California tennis circuit. In addition to being accomplished tennis players, the girls were excellent basketball players. May, Florence and Violet were all on the Pasadena High School basketball team, which went undefeated in 1900.[7] In 1904 at age 17 years and 9 months, May Sutton won the singles title at the U.S. Championships on her first attempt and became the youngest US champion in history.[5] She also teamed with Miriam Hall to win the women's doubles title and came close to making it a clean sweep by advancing to the mixed doubles final.[8]

She was unable to defend her U.S. title as she traveled to England in May 1905 to compete in the Wimbledon Championships. In June, she won the grass court Northern Championships in Manchester, defeating Hilda Lane in the final.[9] Sutton became the first American and first non-British woman to win the Wimbledon singles title when she beat British star and reigning two-time Wimbledon champion Dorothea Douglass Chambers in the challenge round. She did it while shocking the British audience by rolling up her sleeves to bare her elbows and wearing a skirt that showed her ankles. For the next two years, she and Chambers met in the final, with Chambers recapturing the title in 1906 and Sutton winning it back in 1907.[10]

Sutton was the 1908 Rose Parade Queen in Pasadena.[6]

On December 11, 1912, she married Tom Bundy, who was a three-time winner of the men's doubles title at the U.S. Championships, and semi-retired to raise a family. However, in 1921 at the age of 35, she made a comeback and became the fourth-ranked player in the U.S. In 1925, she was a women's doubles finalist at the U.S. Championships and, although almost forty years of age, her game was strong enough to be selected for America's Wightman Cup team. In 1922 and 1923, she won the women's singles in the Ojai Tennis Tournament.[11] She was a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 1929 at the age of 42, which was the first time she had played Wimbledon since 1907. In 1928 and 1929, she and her daughter Dorothy Cheney became the only mother/daughter combination to be seeded at the U.S. Championships. Her nephew, John Doeg, won the U.S. Championships in 1930, and in 1938, daughter Dorothy won the Australian Championships.

In 1956, Sutton was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.[12] She never stopped playing tennis and was playing regularly well into her late 80s.

Sutton died of cancer on October 4, 1975, in Santa Monica, California and was interred in the local Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery.[13]

Playing style


Eight-time U.S. National Championship winner Molla Bjurstedt Mallory indicated that Sutton was the best player she had met. "Her drive was the fastest and the...most handle, because it dove suddenly to the ground and then jumped up unexpectedly with queer curves. When she could keep her drives near the baseline, they either forced me back farther than I had been accustomed to play or compelled me to make errors. She was also strong overhead when she came to the net and altogether had more power and effectiveness than any other woman tennis player of her time". Sutton played with an extreme Western grip and had a powerful topspin forehand that made the ball dip and bound high.[14]

Grand Slam finals


Singles : 3 titles, 1 runner-up

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Win 1904 U.S. Championships Grass   Elisabeth Moore 6–1, 6–2
Win 1905 Wimbledon Grass   Dorothea Douglass Chambers 6–3, 6–4
Loss 1906 Wimbledon Grass   Dorothea Douglass Chambers 3–6, 7–9
Win 1907 Wimbledon Grass   Dorothea Douglass Chambers 6–1, 6–4

Doubles : 1 title, 1 runner-up

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Win 1904 U.S. Championships Grass   Miriam Hall   Elisabeth Moore
  Carrie Neely
3–6, 6–3, 6–3
Loss 1925 U.S. Championships Grass   Elizabeth Ryan   Mary K. Browne
  Helen Wills
4–6, 3–6

Mixed doubles : 1 runner-up

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Loss 1904 U.S. Championships Grass   F.B. Dallas   Elisabeth Moore
  Wylie Grant
2–6, 1–6


  1. ^ "California tennis wonder astonishes the east". San Francisco Call. June 23, 1904. Retrieved November 3, 2023.
  2. ^ "Miss May Sutton photo". Oakland Tribune. July 21, 1904. Retrieved November 3, 2023.
  3. ^ "May Sutton tombstone". Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  4. ^ Pauly, Thomas H. (2012). Game Faces : Five Early American Champions and the Sports they Changed. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0803238176.
  5. ^ a b Paul Newman (September 29, 2016). "From the archive: May Sutton, America's first female champion". AELTC.
  6. ^ a b Cecilia Rasmussen (March 28, 1999). "May Bundy rewrote the tennis books". The Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ Hult & Trekell 1991, p. 144
  8. ^ "Miss Sutton Tennis Champion" (PDF). The New York Times. June 26, 1904. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  9. ^ "Lawn Tennis – Northern Championships". Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser. British Newspaper Archive. June 19, 1905. p. 3.
  10. ^ Collins, Bud (2010). The Bud Collins History of Tennis (2nd ed.). [New York]: New Chapter Press. p. 427. ISBN 978-0942257700.
  11. ^ American Lawn Tennis. American Lawn Tennis Publishing Company. 1923.
  12. ^ "Hall of Famers - May Sutton Bundy". International Tennis Federation (ITF).
  13. ^ "May Sutton Bundy - Oldtime Tennis Queen". St. Petersburg Times. October 7, 1975 – via Google News Archive.
  14. ^ Ohnsorg, Roger W. (February 2011). Robert Lindley Murray: The Reluctant U.S. Tennis Champion; includes "The First Forty Years of American Tennis". Victoria, BC: Trafford On Demand Pub. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-4269-4514-4.

Additional sources

  • Hult, Joan S.; Trekell, Marianna (1991). A Century of women's basketball : from frailty to final four. Reston, Va: National Association for Girls and Women in Sport. ISBN 9780883144909.