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Bermuda’s role in serving up tennis to US

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Bermuda's part in bringing tennis to the United States has been profiled in The New York Times.

Mary Ewing Outerbridge, born in America to Bermudian parents, discovered the game at her family's home on the island — and took the sport back with her to the US.

Her historic play was highlighted by the newspaper as part of its “Overlooked” series, designed to document the lives of women ignored in its obituary pages over the years in favour of white men.

Ms Outerbridge, born in Philadelphia in 1852 to wealthy Bermudians Alexander Ewing Outerbridge, first encountered tennis on the lawns of “Clermont” on the island.

The game had just been introduced to Bermuda by a British man, Thomas Middleton.

Ms Outerbridge was so impressed with the game that she took equipment, including racquets and a net, when she returned to America on board the SS Canima in 1874. But the move almost ended in failure because suspicious customs officials in New York impounded the equipment before they relented and released it.

Ms Outerbridge set up the first tennis court in the US on Staten Island, where the family had moved, with the help of her brother A. Grelius Outerbridge.

She hosted the first national tournament in 1880, but died in 1886, aged 34, a year before America's first championship game for women was held, according to the Times.

Tennis became a popular Bermudian sport and was promoted by businessman William Ernest Rudolf Joell, who is remembered by the WER Joell Stadium in Pembroke.

The Outerbridge family left another mark on New York, courtesy of Eugenius Harvey Outerbridge, another of Mary's brothers and the first chairman of the city's Port Authority.

His name is commemorated in the Outerbridge Crossing, which links Staten Island with Perth Amboy in New Jersey.

Ace idea: Tennis pioneer Mary Ewing Outerbridge, who introduced Americans to the sport after encountering it in Bermuda (File photograph)

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Published March 15, 2018 at 9:00 am (Updated March 15, 2018 at 7:24 am)

Bermuda’s role in serving up tennis to US

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