Geoff Hinder from the National Badminton Museum takes a trip down memory lane to profile Betty Uber, who dominated Women’s badminton in the 1930s and won a total of 13 All England Championship titles.
Betty started her All England success in 1930 with the first of three consecutive mixed titles with her husband Herbert. They would be the first married couple to win a Mixed Doubles title. In 1933 she changed her mixed partner to Donald Hume; they won the next four editions. Then with Bill White in 1938 she won her eighth and final Mixed Doubles title. Singles wasn’t her strongest game but she managed to take the 1935 All England singles title. During the 1930s she also won three Women’s Doubles titles.
In 1949, at the age of 44, she did something quite remarkable. Playing with Queenie Allen, she won her 13th and final All England title. No mean feat as their opponents that day were Tonny Ahm and Kirsten Thorndahl from Denmark, themselves multiple winners of the greatest tournament of all.
It wasn’t just at the All England she enjoyed success. She dominated international badminton, winning 14 Scottish Open titles, 12 Irish Open, 8 Welsh titles, 3 South African and 2 French Open titles.
Betty Uber’s incredible England International badminton record
She represented England in official international fixtures on 37 occasions over a period of 25 years, from 1926 to 1951. During that period, she achieved the seemingly impossible record of winning every one of her first 51 international matches in which she played. Even more incredible is that in one of those matches, a Mixed Doubles fixture against Denmark, she actually served and won 30 consecutive points to emerge victorious - neither her opponent nor her partner served at all! In fairness, it must be stressed that the Danes were not then nearly such good players as they subsequently became. But the record stands.
The Badminton Association of England presented her with a trophy for her England international achievements.
The Uber Cup
In 1956, Betty presented the Uber Cup (World Women’s Team Championship) to the International Badminton Federation, now the BWF. The trophy was made to her own design and specifications and is played for every two years.
Photos - National Badminton Museum
Geoff Hinder - National Badminton Museum