Saturday, May 23, 2009

Remembering Suzanne Lenglen

Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen, who lost only one match between 1919 and 1926, was considered quite a character. She wore "shocking" designer tennis clothes (which helped her movement), she cried on the court, and she drank brandy from an "emergency kit" between sets.

Lenglen was trained to hit groundstokes by her father, who moved a handkerchief all around the court and instructed his charge to hit the handkerchief target. Lenglen also swam, ran sprints, and jumped rope as part of her training. She startled spectators with her accuracy, grace and anticipation. Lenglen's combination of athleticism, skill, grace, and court histrionics helped make tennis an international sport of prestige. To this day, many still consider her the greatest female tennis player of all time. Rene Lacoste said of her: "It was only after several games that I understood what harmony was concealed by her simplicity, what wonderful mental and physical balance was hidden by the facility of her play...."

Here is part of the only match La Divine ever played against Helen Wills. The match took place in Cannes in 1926. Lenglen won the match, 6-3, 8-6.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If momo had the chance, she would probably keep some French wine in her emergency kit as well. ;-)