Helena Bertha Grace Rice or Lena Rice was the only female Irish tennis player to win a singles title at Wimbledon. Rice was the second youngest of the seven children of Spring Rice and Anna Gorde. She was born on 21 June 1866 at Marlhill, in a two-storied Georgian building, half a mile from New Inn, County Tipperary. She had two brothers, Henry and Spring, and four sisters, Bess, Connie, Annie and Lucy. Lena, who regularly partnered her sister Annie at tennis, learnt the game at home, where her parents entertained in their large garden at Marlhill in the 1880s. The family fortunes were not to last and after the death of Spring Rice, the household declined into a state of near destitution.
Lena played at Cahir Lawn Tennis Club, which had four courts as well as two croquet lawns. Lena had a powerful service game and also a brilliant forehand drive and also that time most of her own opponents were men.
Lena Rice's first sporting appearance outside Co. Tipperary was at the Irish Championships at the Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club in May 1889. Her sister Annie, who also played but usually lost in the first round, continued to travel with her sister to matches. At Fitswilliam Lena lost narrowly in two sets to Mrs Hillyard – five times Wimbledon Champion – in the semi-final. She took revenge in the Mixed Doubles when partnered by Willoughby Hamilton as she won the Mixed Doubles title, beating Mrs Hillyard and Henry Stone in the final 6–4 5–7 6–4.