Lacoste, Rene


Lacoste, Rene
▪ 1997

      French tennis player and sportswear manufacturer (b. July 2, 1904, Paris, Fr.—d. Oct. 12, 1996, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Fr.), was a leading competitor during the 1920s and later transformed his nickname, "Le Crocodile," into a popular emblem on polo shirts around the world. Lacoste was the last survivor of the legendary Four Musketeers of French tennis (the others were Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, and Henri Cochet); among them, the four won all six Wimbledon singles titles from 1924 to 1929. A methodical player who was recognized as perhaps tennis's greatest groundstroker and one of its most astute tacticians, Lacoste won the Wimbledon singles in 1925 and 1928, won the French Open singles in 1925, 1927, and 1929, and became the first foreigner to win the U.S. Open singles championship twice (1926-27). He also helped France win its first Davis Cup in 1927 by defeating U.S. tennis great Bill Tilden. By that time sportswriters had begun calling Lacoste "Le Crocodile" to describe his tenacious playing style on the court. Following his retirement from tennis in 1929, Lacoste started a sportswear company, La Société Chemise Lacoste; decades later, after Lacoste's son had expanded the business into a global operation, polo shirts embroidered with Lacoste's "crocodile" emblem (somehow it was changed into an alligator) became famous as status symbols worldwide. Lacoste also designed tennis rackets and golf clubs and wrote a book, Lacoste on Tennis (1928). He and his fellow Musketeers were elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1976.

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▪ French athlete
in full  Jean-René Lacoste  
born July 2, 1904, Paris, France
died Oct. 12, 1996, Saint-Jean-de-Luz
 French tennis player who was a leading competitor in the late 1920s. As one of the powerful Four Musketeers (the others were Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet, and Jacques Brugnon), he helped France win its first Davis Cup in 1927, starting its six-year domination of the cup. Later on he was better known for his successful sportswear company.

      Lacoste, who was nicknamed “the crocodile,” won the Wimbledon singles in 1925 and 1928, the French singles in 1925, 1927, and 1929, and became the first foreigner to win the U.S. championship twice (1926–27). With Borotra, he won the British doubles in 1925 and the French doubles in 1924, 1925, and 1929.

      A methodical player, Lacoste would study every aspect of tennis before a match, and he would wait for an opponent to weaken. His best-known game was perhaps the 1927 U.S. championship, in which he drove Bill Tilden to exhaustion in the two-hour final. After winning the 1929 French championship, Lacoste retired. Decades later, sportshirts and other items of apparel with his “crocodile” emblem (although somehow changed to an alligator) became popular throughout the world. He and his fellow “musketeers” were elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1976.

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Universalium. 2010.

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