Kitty McKane

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameKathleen "Kitty"•McKane (-Godfree)
Used nameKitty•McKane
Born7 May 1896 in Bayswater, Greater London, England (GBR)
Died19 June 1992 in East Sheen, Greater London, England (GBR)
NOC Great Britain
Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 2
Bronze 2
Total 5


With a bronze in the singles, a silver in the mixed doubles and a gold in the women’s doubles, Kitty McKane acquired a full set of medals at the 1920 Olympic Games. Her bronze medal in the 1920 singles was won in unique circumstances: as she wished to be at her best to partner Winifred McNair in the doubles she conceded a walkover in the semi-final of the singles but still qualified to play in the bronze medal match against Sigrid Fick of Sweden, which she duly won. She won two more medals at the 1924 Games in Paris but despite a total of five Olympic medals she will be remembered for more notable successes in other tournaments.

Although London-born, Kitty McKane learned her tennis at St. Leonard’s School in Scotland and made her tournament début at Roehampton in April 1919. A few weeks later she reached the quarter-finals on her first appearance at Wimbledon and soon took over the role of Britain’s number one player from Dorothy Lambert Chambers. By 1924 she had established herself as a world class player and confirmed her status by beating the great Helen Wills in the Wightman Cup, repeating the feat at Wimbledon a few days later. In a classic Wimbledon final, McKane lost the first set and trailed 1-4 in the second but came back to hand Helen Wills her only defeat in a singles match in nine appearances at Wimbledon.

In January 1926, Kitty McKane married Leslie Godfree while they were on a tennis tour of South Africa and later that year they achieved the ultimate in familial success by becoming the only husband and wife pairing ever to win the mixed doubles at Wimbledon. In 1926 she also won her second Wimbledon singles title and reached the final of the women’s doubles for the third time, the first time having been in 1922 when she was partnered by her sister, Margaret Stocks. Although she never succeeded in winning the women’s doubles at Wimbledon, McKane had a fine record in other major championship doubles, winning the US title in 1923 and 1927 and the US mixed doubles in 1925.

Kathleen McKane Godfree’s record as a tennis player was matched by her success at badminton. She won eight All-England titles (four singles, two doubles, two mixed), her victories in the doubles coming with her sister, Margaret, as her partner. Her sporting talents were not restricted to racket games. As a nine-year-old she cycled 600 miles from London to Berlin on a family “outing”. The following year she was awarded the bronze medal of the National Skating Association, and in 1914 she was selected to play for England against Scotland in the lacrosse international but the game was called off due to the outbreak of war.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1920 Summer Olympics Tennis GBR Kitty McKane
Singles, Women (Olympic) 3 Bronze
Doubles, Mixed (Olympic) Max Woosnam 2 Silver
Doubles, Women (Olympic) Winifred McNair 1 Gold
1924 Summer Olympics Tennis GBR Kitty McKane
Singles, Women (Olympic) 3 Bronze
Doubles, Mixed (Olympic) Brian Gilbert 4
Doubles, Women (Olympic) Phyllis Covell 2 Silver

Olympic family relations