René Lacoste

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René Lacoste
René Lacoste.jpg
Country  France
Born (1904-07-02)July 2, 1904
Paris, France
Died October 12, 1996(1996-10-12) (aged 92)
Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France
Retired 1932
Plays Right-handed (one-handed backhand)
Int. Tennis HOF 1976 (member page)
Highest ranking No. 1 (1926, A. Wallis Myers)
Grand Slam Singles results
French Open W (1925, 1927, 1929)
Wimbledon W (1925, 1928)
US Open W (1926, 1927)
Grand Slam Doubles results
French Open W (1925, 1929)
Wimbledon W (1925)
US Open SF
Olympic medal record
Men's Tennis
Bronze 1924 Paris Doubles

Jean René Lacoste (French pronunciation: ​[ʒɑ̃ ʁəne laˈkɔst]; July 2, 1904 - October 12, 1996) was a French tennis player and businessman. He was nicknamed "the Crocodile" by fans because of his tenacity on the court; he is also known worldwide as the creator of the Lacoste tennis shirt, which he introduced in 1929.

Lacoste was one of The Four Musketeers with Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, and Henri Cochet, French tennis stars who dominated the game in the 1920s and early 1930s. He won seven Grand Slam singles titles in the French, American, and British championships but never made the long trip to Australia to play in their championships. He was the World No. 1 player for both 1926 and 1927.[1]


In 1933, Lacoste founded La Société Chemise Lacoste with André Gillier. The company produced the tennis shirt which Lacoste often wore when he was playing, which had a crocodile (often thought to be an alligator) embroidered on the chest.

In 1963, Lacoste created a sensation in racquet technology by patenting the first tubular steel tennis racquet. Until then, racquets had almost always been made of wood. This new racquet's strings were attached to the frame by a series of wires, which wrapped around the racquet head. The racquet was marketed in Europe under the Lacoste brand, but in the United States it was marketed by Wilson Sporting Goods and achieved critical acclaim and huge popularity as the Wilson T-2000, used by American tennis great Jimmy Connors.

In his 1979 autobiography, Jack Kramer, the long-time tennis promoter and great player himself, included Lacoste in his list of the 21 greatest players of all time.[a]

There are numerous explanations of why Lacoste was originally nicknamed the Crocodile. A 2006 New York Times obituary about Lacoste's son, Bernard, provides an apparently authoritative one. In the 1920s, supposedly, Lacoste made a bet with his team captain about whether he would win a certain match. The stakes were a suitcase he had seen in a Boston store; it was made of crocodile (or alligator) skin. Later, René Lacoste's friend Robert George embroidered a crocodile onto a blazer that Lacoste wore for his matches.[2]

The week of his death, French Advertising agency Publicis, who had been managing the account for decades, published a print ad with the Lacoste logo and the English words "See you later...", reinforcing the idea that the animal was perhaps an alligator.

He married the famous golfing champion, Simone de la Chaume. Their daughter Catherine Lacoste was a champion golfer.

The Four Musketeers were inducted simultaneously into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1976.

Lacoste (right) with Otto Froitzheim

French Championships

  • Singles champion: 1925, 1927, 1929
  • Singles finalist: 1926, 1928
  • Doubles champion: 1925, 1929
  • Doubles finalist: 1927


  • Singles champion: 1925, 1928
  • Singles finalist: 1924
  • Doubles champion: 1925

U.S. Championships

  • Singles champion: 1926, 1927
  • Mixed finalist: 1926, 1927

Grand Slam finals[edit]



Year Tournament Opponent in the final Score
1925 French Championships France Jean Borotra 7–5, 6–1, 6–4
1925 Wimbledon France Jean Borotra 6–3, 6–3, 4–6, 8–6
1926 US National Championships France Jean Borotra 6–4, 6–0, 6–4
1927 French Championships United States Bill Tilden 6–4, 4–6, 5–7, 6–3, 11–9
1927 US National Championships United States Bill Tilden 11–9, 6–3, 11–9
1928 Wimbledon France Henri Cochet 6–1, 4–6, 6–4, 6–2
1929 French Championships France Jean Borotra 6–3, 2–6, 6–0, 2–6, 8–6


Year Tournament Opponent in the final Score
1924 Wimbledon France Jean Borotra 1–6, 6–3, 1–6, 6–3, 4–6
1926 French Championships France Henri Cochet 2–6, 4–6, 3–6
1928 French Championships France Henri Cochet 7–5, 3–6, 1–6, 3–6



Year Tournament Partner Opponents in the final Score
1925 French Championships France Jean Borotra France Jacques Brugnon
France Henri Cochet
7–5, 4–6, 6–3, 2–6, 6–3
1925 Wimbledon France Jean Borotra United States John Hennessey
United States Raymond Casey
6–4, 11–9, 4–6, 1–6, 6–3
1929 French Championships France Jean Borotra France Jacques Brugnon
France Henri Cochet
6–3, 3–6, 6–3, 3–6, 8–6


Year Tournament Partner Opponents in the final Score
1925 French Championships France Jean Borotra France Jacques Brugnon
France Henri Cochet
6–2, 2–6, 0–6, 6–1, 4–6

Grand Slam singles tournament timeline[edit]

Tournament 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 Career SR
Australian Championships A A A A A A A A A A A 0 / 0
French Championships1 A A NH W F W F W A A 4R 3 / 6
Wimbledon 1R 4R F W A SF W A A A A 2 / 6
U.S. Championships A 2R QF QF W W A A A A A 2 / 5
SR 0 / 1 0 / 2 0 / 2 2 / 3 1 / 2 2 / 3 1 / 2 1 / 1 0 / 0 0 / 0 0 / 1 7 / 17

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Writing in 1979, Kramer considered the best player ever to have been either Don Budge (for consistent play) or Ellsworth Vines (at the height of his game). The next four best were, chronologically, Bill Tilden, Fred Perry, Bobby Riggs, and Pancho Gonzales. After these six came the "second echelon" of Rod Laver, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Gottfried von Cramm, Ted Schroeder, Jack Crawford, Pancho Segura, Frank Sedgman, Tony Trabert, John Newcombe, Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Björn Borg, and Jimmy Connors. He felt unable to rank Henri Cochet and René Lacoste accurately but felt they were among the very best.


  1. ^ Bud Collins (2010). The Bud Collins History of Tennis (2nd ed.). [New York]: New Chapter Press. pp. 598, 599. ISBN 978-0942257700. 
  2. ^ "Obituary: Bernard Lacoste, James Freedman". The New York Times. March 23, 2006. 

External links[edit]