Born in Brighton and educated at Brighton College, Leslie Godfree was the son of a solicitor’s clerk and followed in his father’s footsteps, entering the legal profession. He was a Captain with the Royal Field Artillery in World War One and was awarded the Military Cross. As a tennis player Godfree was better known as a doubles player, rarely winning singles tournaments, and in his 11 Wimbledon appearances he won just four of 14 singles matches and never progressed beyond the third round. However, he claimed a small part in Wimbledon history in 1922 when he served the first ball on the new centre court after the All England Club moved to their current Church Road home. His opponent Algy Kingscote hit the return into the net and Godfree raced forward to collect and pocket the ball to keep as a memento. It was all he got out of the match as Kingscote won in straight sets
Despite his failings as a singles player. Godfree and Randolph Lycett beat the Spanish pair of Eduardo Flaquer and Manuel de Gomar in four sets to win the Wimbledon men’s doubles in 1923, He reached the mixed doubles final the following year but Godfree and Dorothy Shepherd-Barron lost to Brian Gilbert and Kitty McKane, who, less than two years later would become Leslie’s wife. Also in 1924, Godfree took part in the two doubles events at the Olympic Games with Max Woosnam and Phyllis Covell but there was to be no medal for him.
Leslie forged a new doubles partnership with Kitty McKane and “Biddy”, as he called her, became his second wife in January 1926 and that summer they became the only married couple to win the mixed doubles at Wimbledon after beating the American couple Howard Kinsey and Mary Browne. As the top seeds they were expected to retain their title in 1927 but lost to the third seeds Frank Hunter and Elizabeth Ryan of the USA. Leslie played on the British Davis Cup team between 1923 and 1927 but played only in the doubles, winning six of the 11 rubbers played. He was heavily involved with the administration of the sport nationally and internationally and up to the time of his death he was a member of the All-England Club and Wimbledon Championship Committee. He was also president of the Umpire’s Association and the Veterans’ Lawn Tennis Club.
|Games||Discipline (Sport) / Event||NOC / Team||Pos||Medal||As|
|1924 Summer Olympics||Tennis||GBR||Leslie Godfree|
|Doubles, Mixed (Olympic)||Phyllis Covell||=5|
|Doubles, Men (Olympic)||Max Woosnam||=29|