Who was Suzanne Lenglen, the French tennis divine?

Nicknamed the 'Divine', Suzanne Lenglen is one of the greatest French tennis players. Passed down to posterity, it has given its name to stadiums, streets, parks and one of the central courts of the Roland-Garros stadium.

  Who was Suzanne Lenglen, the French tennis divine?

Suzanne Lenglen born on 24 May 1899 in the very bourgeois XVI th Parisian district. From the age of 11 years old , she took up tennis, a sport for which she very quickly developed a very special appetite. It was his father who noticed his agility and skill from childhood and gave him his first racquet. Traumatized by the death of his son Philippe at the age of 3, he made Suzanne the object of all his care, and the coach rigorously for almost 10 years.

How did Suzanne Lenglen's career start?

In 1913 , Suzanne Lenglen, then aged 14, began her career. The following year, she became world champion on clay . In 1919, she made history and became the first Frenchwoman to be crowned at Wimbledon . A true precursor, she was also the first professional tennis player and the first female athlete to receive compensation for playing . A decision that strongly displeases the French Lawn Tennis Federation (FFLT). At the time, tennis players had to be amateurs to participate in tournaments. There FFLT therefore excludes Suzanne Lenglen of the shipowner circuit. Suzanne Lenglen's career ended two years later.

What is Suzanne Lenglen's track record?

Suzanne Lenglen won it all:

  • 81 titles in simple
  • 73 titles in double
  • 87 titles in double mixte
  • 1 gold medal in singles at the Antwerp Olympics
  • 1 gold medal in doubles at the Antwerp Olympics
  • 7 times world champion on clay and on grass in Paris and Wimbledon

One of the most watched matches that Suzanne Lenglen has played is the one that has been dubbed ' The game of the century ', on February 17, 1926 in Cannes and which opposed the American Helen Wills .

Suzanne Lenglen and her headband at the Wimbledon final in 1925

How did Suzanne Lenglen dress on court?

Originally a sport exclusively practiced by the aristocracy and the upper middle class, tennis has long been subject to a dress code particularly demanding. Thus, at Wimbledon, it is customary to compete in white. It's only since 2023 that female players have the right to wear underwear of another color (!) on the courts. Back to the first part of the XX th century. Far from the codes of the time, Suzanne Lenglen arrives on the courts wearing makeup, wearing a headband and dressed in a sleeveless T-shirt, a pleated skirt midi length worn without stockings and soft shoes. A look at odds with that of the players of the time, accustomed to long sleeve shirts and skirts that hide the ankles. However, her clothes are not just a story of coquetry: looser, more fluid, lighter, they allow her to participate in competitions. without being hindered by his movements . Her outfits, shorter, more low-cut, more bare than those of her competitors, contribute to forging the Lenglen myth. It must be said that fashion, the player knows: the designer Jean Patou makes her his muse and dresses her for her matches as well as during social events.

What is Suzanne Lenglen up to after her tennis career?

Once the racquet was hung up, Suzanne Lenglen discovered a vocation for designer of haute couture pieces , before embarking on teaching his favorite sport. It also opens a tennis school named Suzanne Lenglen – Initiation to tennis, in Auteuil. His courses are so popular that they will give birth to a ' Lenglen method '.

How did Suzanne Lenglen die?

Suzanne Lenglen dies July 4, 1938 , aged 39, from leukemia. Become a French sport icon , the player gave her name to dozens of sports complexes and streets in France. In Paris, it's a way of the XVI th district, where she was born, which was named after the tennis player. In 1997, the short A of Roland-Garros is renamed Suzanne Lenglen. It has 10,056 seats and will host, in addition to the Roland-Garros tournaments, the 2024 olympics boxing events .

Source journaldesfemmes.fr