One of the most talented all-round athletes ever produced by Wales, Audrey Bates played at the highest level in four different sports and was also invited to play hockey for Wales. She won a bronze medal with Audrey Coombs and Betty Gray as Wales scooped the bronze medal at the 1951 World Team Table Tennis Championships Vienna. She won the Cardiff & District League title 10 ties and competed at 10 World Championships with Wales between 1947-59.
In squash, she was a Welsh international between 1947-65, Welsh champion and seeded as high as No 4 at the British Women’s Championships. She was a regular in the British team for the matches Wolfe Noel Cup matches against the USA and twice led Wales to notable victories over the Americans in the Fifties. She won the West of England title in 1948, was runner-up at the Middlesex Open in 1954 and twice steered Glamorgan into the final of the County Championships. She went on to become president of Welsh Squash.
The hectic nature of her schedule was shown in an article in the Western Mail in the early Fifties:
“Since returning from the World Table Tennis Championships in Budapest on February 7, Audrey has hardly had a day off. February 18 saw her in London helping Wales defeat the American women’s squash team 3-2. On the day after she was a member of the Welsh side that lost 5-0, while the following morning she won her first-round English squash match and dashed to Cheltenham in the evening to represent Wales against England at table tennis. The following two days were spent back in London playing second and third rounds of the squash championship before losing to the American No 2. There followed a trip to Bangor by road to meet Ireland at table tennis and another return to London as first reserve to the GB squash team versus the Americans.”
Born 10 minutes after her twin sister, Barbara, Audrey first picked up a racket at Radyr tennis club when she was nine years old. She went on to join Whitchurch and Cardiff LTC and played internationally for Wales at tennis between 1947-54. She played singles (1948-52) and doubles (1950-52) at Wimbledon.
“I played social squash, tennis and golf – Audrey was the talented one with an eye for a ball,” admitted Barbara, who lived all her life with her twin sister. “Cardiff’s grass courts were reputedly the best outside Wimbledon. If the grass was wet, Audrey was one of those who had a quick answer to that – play with your socks over your shoes.”
She learned lacrosse at Howell’s School, where she returned after the war to teach and take on legendary status. and Welsh Lacrosse associations. She played for Wales, coached Wales and became president of the Welsh Lacrosse Association.
Audrey Glenys Bates (Squash, Table Tennis, Lacrosse and Tennis player) Born in Cardiff on 4 April, 1922; Died in Cardiff on 21 November, 2001