Mabel Cahill
Mabel cahill and fellowes morgan.jpg
Cahill (left) with Emma Leavitt-Morgan
Full nameMabel Esmonde Cahill
Country (sports)United Kingdom United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Born(1863-04-02)2 April 1863
Ballyragget, County Kilkenny, Ireland
Died2 February 1905(1905-02-02) (aged 41)
Ormskirk, Lancashire, England
Int. Tennis HoF1976 (member page)
Grand Slam singles results
US OpenW (1891, 1892)
Grand Slam doubles results
US OpenW (1891, 1892)
Grand Slam mixed doubles results
US OpenW (1892) 1890, 1891 not official
Mabel E. Cahill, from an 1892 publication.
Mabel E. Cahill, from an 1892 publication.

Mabel Esmonde Cahill (2 April 1863 – 2 February 1905) was an Irish female tennis player, active in the late 19th century, and was the first foreign woman to win a major tennis tournament when she won the 1891 US National Championships.

Early life and family

Mabel Cahill was born on 2 April 1863 in the family home of Ballyragget House, Ballyragget, County Kilkenny,[1] the twelfth child of thirteen born into her family.[2] She had 5 sisters and 7 brothers.[3][4] Being part of this society resulted in having social events held by the upper class. In this case, tennis parties.[5] During this time, it was quite uncommon for women to obtain a secondary level school degree however it has been recorded that Mabel attended Roscrea School with two of her brothers, a fee paying school.[4] There is strong evidence to suggest that Mabel and two of her sisters enrolled in Sacred Heart Convent Secondary School.

After school, Mabel moved from her family town of Ballyraggett to the city of Dublin in the year of 1886.[4][5] At this point she then took part in a club that played lawn tennis which would then spark her love for the sport. Three years after moving to Dublin, Mabel then decided to emigrate to America via the ship, the SS Arizona which departed from Liverpool and landed in the USA where she took up residency in New York City at the age of 29.[4][5]


Cahill won the Orange Club ladies championship in 1890 and 1891.[1][6] Cahill became the first foreign woman to win a major tournament when she defeated Ellen Roosevelt in the 1891 US Championships women's final at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.[7] She also won the Mixed Doubles event alongside M.R. Wright, though at the time this was not listed as an official event.[8] She successfully defended her women's singles title in 1892[9] and also won the women's doubles title with Adeline McKinlay and the mixed doubles title with Clarence Hobart. She did not defend her titles in 1893.[10]

Grand Slam finals

Singles (2 titles)

Result Year Championship Surface Opponent Score
Win 1891 U.S. Championships Grass United States Ellen Roosevelt 6–4, 6–1, 4–6, 6–3
Win 1892 U.S. Championships Grass United States Elisabeth Moore 5–7, 6–3, 6–4, 4–6, 6–2

Doubles (2 titles)

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Win 1891 U.S. Championships Grass United States Emma Leavitt-Morgan United States Ellen Roosevelt
United States Grace Roosevelt
2–6, 8–6, 6–4
Win 1892 U.S. Championships Grass United States Adeline McKinlay United States Helen Day Harris
United States Amy Reeve Williams
6–1, 6–3

Mixed doubles (1 title)

Result Year Championship Surface Partner Opponents Score
Win 1892 U.S. Championships Grass United States Clarence Hobart United States Elisabeth Moore
United States Rodmond Beach
6–1, 6–3

Later life and death

Cahill also attempted to start a career as a writer during her time in America. She wrote a romantic novel called Her Playthings: Men which was published in 1891 but it was not successful.[11][12] She tried to write shorter stories, Carved in marble and Purple Sparkling but they too were not well received. In 1893 she contributed two articles to the Ladies' Home Journal named The art of playing good tennis and Arranging a tennis tournament, respectively. [11] She also performed as a chorus girl in music halls.[13] Her later years were troubled, and she died on 2 February 1905 at the Ormskirk Union Workhouse. She was buried in Ormskirk on 6 February.[14]

After her death, in 1936, the Irish Lawn Tennis Association placed an advert in the national press asking that a representative of hers could come forward to collect a gold medallion struck to honour her achievements in tennis in America. It is not known if the medallion was collected.[11] In 1976, Cahill was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, where she is the only Irish representative.[15][16]


  1. ^ a b "Tennis at Orange" (PDF). The New York Times. 28 June 1890. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  2. ^ O'Callaghan, Eoin. "The Mystery and Tragedy of Mabel Cahill". The 42. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  3. ^ Diffley, Sean (21 July 2012). "Unraveling the Mystery of Irish Stars Lost in the Mist of Time". Irish Independent. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d Byrne, Angela. "Mabel Esmonde Cahill". Her Story. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Mannion, Nathan. "Mabel Cahill, Irish tennis champion who won five US Opens". The Irish Times. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  6. ^ "Miss Cahill Defeats Miss Morgan" (PDF). The New York Times. 13 June 1891. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  7. ^ "In The Tennis Court" (PDF). The New York Times. 27 June 1891. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  8. ^ "With Mr M. Wright she carries off the Mixed Doubles". Philadelphia Inquirer. 28 June 1891. p. 5.
  9. ^ "Miss Cahill Still Champion" (PDF). The New York Times. 25 June 1892. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
  10. ^ "The girls played great tennis" (PDF). The New York Times. 23 June 1893.
  11. ^ a b c "Dictionary of Irish Biography - Cambridge University Press". Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  12. ^ "MABEL ESMONDE CAHILL / US Open tennis champion, writer, actor —". Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  13. ^ Manchester Evening News: "A Chorus Girl's County Court Claim", 2 February 1899, p 5.
  14. ^ "Ormskirk parish register via Ancestry". Retrieved 12 September 2021.
  15. ^ "Turtle Bunbury - Award-winning travel writer, historian and author based in Ireland". Archived from the original on 3 August 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  16. ^ "International Tennis Hall of Fame". Retrieved 22 November 2019.