Coote, Nina Edith (1883–1945), croquet champion, was born 23 September 1883 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, only child of Orlando Robert Coote (1855–1927), land agent, and his wife Edith Mary (née Hume) (1858/9–1920). Her father was the third son of Rev. Sir Algernon Coote (1817–99), 11th baronet, clergyman and landowner, of Ballyfin, Queen’s Co. (Laois), and Tunbridge Wells. Orlando Coote, probably educated in England, was an avid sportsman and sports administrator, typical of the landed gentry who were prominent in the development of organised sport in Ireland and Britain in the latter nineteenth century. He was the principal founder and first captain (1887), and subsequently president, of Athlone Association Football Club (forerunner of League of Ireland club Athlone Town); earlier in the 1880s he had founded a soccer club in Castlerea, Co. Roscommon. A founding officer (1896) of Athlone Garden Vale Hockey Club, he was involved in hockey administration in Connaught and Ireland, and was associated with tennis, rowing, yachting, cycling and coursing. By 1901 the family, who were adherents of the Church of Ireland, were residing at Bunnavally, Co. Westmeath, near Athlone.
Regarded by contemporaries as a beautiful young woman, Nina Coote began playing croquet at an early age and discovered a natural affinity for the sport. A member of Garden Vale Tennis and Croquet Club in Athlone, she won the South of Ireland croquet championship in both 1901 and 1902. After losing in the semi‑final of the 1903 croquet championship of Ireland to the eventual winner, her Garden Vale clubmate Mrs Edith Preston, Coote contested the 1903 English ladies’ open championship in Wimbledon, which she won in a remarkable upset, defeating Preston in the final. Members of Garden Vale thus held concurrently both the Irish and English championships. In 1905 Coote again won the English ladies’ open championship, and also won the mixed doubles, partnering Cyril Corbally, one of the ‘Irish terrors’ who had made a huge impression on the sport. The same year she won the Irish gold medals for croquet and the English Croquet Association's gold caskets, the prestigious mixed doubles championship. On two occasions in 1904 she defeated in competition Lily Gower, considered the greatest croquet player (man or woman) of the time. In 1905 she tied with Gower in seventh place in the champions’ cup (latterly the president's cup), which was open to men and women, and came ninth the following two years. In 1908 she repeated Gower's earlier success in winning the English Croquet Association's men's gold medal, and after this triumph the rules were changed to prevent women entering the competition. The ladies’ champion cup began in 1911, and in the inaugural year Gower (now married to R. C. J. Beaton) triumphed, with Coote third.
Coote's playing relied on dash and style, rather than accuracy. She played a fast-paced game, completing her games in record times, with a golf-style side-swing. Her form, although occasionally brilliant, was erratic, allowing the more consistent, if less elegant, Gower to dominate the competitions. Off court Coote had a lively personality, with a sharp tongue, and spared no one with her caustic barbs and comments.
After the first world war her playing ability faded and she retired from active participation, becoming a successful manager of croquet teams. Her dominant personality was again to the fore, and she managed with a firm and dictatorial style. In 1936, after a failed love affair, she became gradually withdrawn and reclusive. She turned to spiritualism and became convinced she would die in her sixty-first year. Increasingly eccentric, she helped make the prophecy come true by deliberately delaying a minor operation that would not otherwise have been dangerous. She died 6 January 1945 in Roehampton, Greater London, from complications resulting from the operation.