From The Times, 24 November 1971
Obituary – Mr Leslie Godfree – Former tennis champion
Brigadier Sir John Smyth writes:
With the death of Leslie Godfree, M.C., who died on November 17 at the age of 86, a very well-known and much respected figure in the lawn tennis world has passed on. He appears on the Wimbledon Championships roll as men’s doubles champion with Randolph Lycett in 1923, and mixed doubles champion with his wife “Biddy” [née Kathleen McKane], in 1926. He also played doubles for Britain in the Davis Cup on many occasions in the early 1920s, partnered by Randolph Lycett, Max Woosnam and Charles Kingsley.
In Wimbledon tennis circles Leslie Godfree will always be remembered for playing the opening match on the Centre Court of the new Wimbledon in 1922. His opponent was Britain’s leading singles player, Lieutenant-Colonel Algernon Kingscote. Godfree won the toss and served; Kingscote returned the ball into the net, where Godfree picked it up and put it in his pocket. He kept it all his life.
The Godfrees are the only married couple who have ever won the mixed doubles together at Wimbledon. And what a very popular pair they were. Biddy Godfree was of course twice Wimbledon singles champion, in 1924 and 1926, when she was Britain’s leading woman player. Biddy Godfree still plays regularly at the All England Club.
But it was on the administrative side of the game that Leslie Godfree made his greatest contribution. He had been for many years, and was at the time of his death, a member of the All England Club and Wimbledon Championship Committee. He was president of the Umpires’ Association and of the Veterans’ Lawn Tennis Club. But perhaps he will be remembered and missed most by the members of the International Lawn Tennis Clubs all over the world. He was both vice-president and chairman of the British International Club and a member of nearly all the others.
Leslie Godree certainly died in harness as he was active until the last few months of his life. As a man he was much admired and as a friend he can never be replaced.
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