Maj. J.G. Ritchie, Olympic Tennis Champion, 1908

Ritchie is best remembered for being a three time medalist at the 1908 London Olympics. At the Games he won a gold (men's singles), silver (men's doubles) and bronze (men's indoor singles) medal. In 1908 and 1910 he and Tony Wilding won the doubles in Wimbledon.

In 1909 he lost the Wimbledon singles final. He also won the Irish championships in 1907 and the German championships 1903 - 1906 and 1908 (in 1904 and 1906 also the doubles there). In 1908 he was member of the British Davis Cup team.

From the 1908 Brightonian Magazine...

"M G J Ritchie's name has been added to the "Highest honours" list at Lawn Tennis. With A. F. Wilding as a partner, he won the English Championship Doubles on July 1st. He has also gained, during this season, the Championships of Europe, of Middlesex (Singles & Doubles), of Surrey (Singles & Doubles), and of West Surrey. By winning the Open Singles in connection with the Olympic Games, Ritchie became the possessor of the Olympic Gold Medal."

Major Ritchie learned his tennis on the family court at home in Putney but when he went to Brighton College he chose not to specialize in the game remaining active in many sports most notably as a particularly fine gymnast. It was not until early in 1892 that Ritchie, by then aged 21, began to take lawn tennis seriously. Seven years later, he won the French covered courts singles championship and from then on he compiled an impressive record of success both at home and on the Continent. At the 1908 Olympics, with Ritchie meeting the German, Otto Froitzheim, in the final the 22-year-old German surprisingly elected to take on Ritchie, 15 years his senior, from the baseline.

Ritchie had few peers at this type of game and as Froitzheim was not one of them he lost to the English veteran in straight sets. Ritchie also won an Olympic silver medal in the doubles with James Parke as his partner and earlier in the same year had won a bronze in the covered court doubles. Major Ritchie won the Wimbledon doubles in 1906 and 1910, partnering the New Zealander, Tony Wilding, with his best performance in the Wimbledon singles coming in 1909 when he won through to the Challenge round only to lose to Wentworth Gore in five sets. His son, Richard, was also an accomplished player but became better known for having served as Secretary of the Queen’s Club for some 30 years.

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