”le Crocodile” Rene Lacoste

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Rene Lacoste, a member of the legendary Four Musketeers of French tennis, as well as the inventor of the metal racquet and the man behind a line of sportswear that became a status symbol, While the polo shirts made him famous later in life, the embroidered reptile harked back to his days as a tennis star in the 20’s, when he was called ”le Crocodile” because of his durability on the court. 

The relatively unathletic Lacoste, who perfected a baseline game more out of necessity than choice, was a three-time singles champion at the French Open, where he claimed his nation’s most cherished title in 1925, 1927 and 1929. He was Wimbledon’s singles champion in 1925 and 1928, and he captured back-to-back championships at the United States Open in 1926 and 1927.

Jean Rene Lacoste was born in Paris on July 2, 1904. He did not take up the game until he visited Britain with his father at 15. When he decided he wanted to pursue a tennis career, his father, a prominent industrialist, allotted him just five years to make himself a champion.

Rene Lacoste and Wife at Davis Cup

30 Mar 1932, Paris, France – Famous French star and international champion so prominently in bringing the Davis Cup to France.

An avid student and, as his later ventures into the business world revealed, a capable innovator, Lacoste transformed himself into a world-class player within three years. His forte was a cagey counterattack from the backcourt, a spot from which he doled out his groundstrokes with a machinelike precision and indefatigability.

At a time when the Davis Cup competition was as important as the Grand Slam tournaments, Lacoste was selected to join the already formidable cast of Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet and Jacques Brugnon on the 1923 French squad. The addition of Lacoste sealed the creation of the Four Musketeers, Davis Cup’s most feared quartet. The high point of Lacoste’s Davis Cup career came with the defeat of the United States for the 1927 championship. France held the cup for five more years. Lacoste’s Davis Cup record was 32-8 in singles and 8-3 in doubles.

Playing doubles alongside the volleyer Borotra, Lacoste won the French Open doubles crown in 1924-25 and again in 1929, his final season of top-echelon competition.

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After leaving competition, Lacoste turned his attention to a variety of business projects. He founded the shirt company that bears his name and logo.

He never stopped searching for the formula for the perfect tennis racquet, a quest that began when he designed a metal model for Wilson Sporting Goods that made its debut in 1967 and was wielded by Billie Jean King when she won Wimbledon in 1968.

Besides designing racquets and golf clubs, Lacoste also wrote a tennis book, ”Lacoste on Tennis.”

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Quotes 

He who does not have the courage to speak up for his rights cannot earn the respect of others.

It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.

The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.

When I consider this carefully, I find not a single property which with certainty separates the waking state from the dream. How can you be certain that your whole life is not a dream.

It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works. All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.

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René Lacoste 

( 1904 -1996 )