A promising pianist in her school days, Daphne Akhurst attended the State Conservatorium of Music in New South Wales, becoming a music teacher and performer. While studying, she became an enthusiastic tennis player, winning the schoolgirls' singles championship in 1917-20. In 1923 she won the County of Cumberland ladies' singles, and two years later, the Australasian championships. She went on to win the Australasian championships a further four times. Akhurst travelled to the United Kingdom, where she competed at Wimbledon, reaching the singles and doubles semi-finals and the mixed doubles final (with Jack Crawford). Akhurst out-performed all of the Australian men in the conmpetition and was ranked third in the world by Ayres' Almanac.
The trophy for the women's singles winner at the Australian Tennis Open is names in her honour.