Updated: May 23, 2021
By John Carpenter, USPTA Elite Pro, PTR Pro, Tennis Instruction Historian
Contact John at email@example.com or cell 805-200-6106 copyright Jan 2021
These six articles below by a tennis parent somehow seem to have been lost from tennis history. There are a lot of books written about Suzanne Lenglen, (born 1899) of France, known for flying through the air like a ballerina. As of 2020, I could find virtually no mention in book or internet media that her father, who claimed to be her sole trainer and coach, once published in his own words how he raised his child to become world champion. I discovered their existence when Mary K. Browne criticized Charles Lenglen by quoting from them.
Once I found them, I concluded Charles’ 1926 story of how he supervised his daughter’s rise to #1 might be a worthy case study for parents who want to be involved in coaching their children. History views Charles as the first overbearing tennis parent. He admitted, “I was a hard taskmaster, and although my advice was always well intentioned, my criticisms were at times severe, and occasionally intemperate." These articles published weekly in the Minneapolis Star Tribune would have made a good instructional book. I transcribed them verbatim so parents and coaches may benefit from the lessons and challenges history can teach us.
Alan Little, longtime Wimbledon librarian whose 2007 bio of Lenglen is excellent, documented her amateur record at 341-7, the best of any international player in history. It appears that he and the other biographers of Lenglen did not have access to these articles below which contain important history and facts about her.
Without a big serve, she came to the net often in the middle of a rally-- observers and opponents commented she volleyed like a man. When the 5’ 7” 20-year-old showed up for the Wimbledon 1919 final without a corset/girdle wearing short sleeves and a shorter skirt than previously seen, spectators gasped as she defeated 7-time defending Wimbledon champion Dorothy Lambert Chambers in a thriller, fighting off two match points in the third set. Suzanne may have felt pressure of being a champion going forward as her father was later observed passing her a flask with cognac in future matches.
Suzanne was famous worldwide, perhaps more so than Bill Tilden. Eight straight years 1919-1926 she was the acknowledged female world champ from 1919 The great tennis writer A Wallis Myers started rankings in 1921 and ranked her #1 through 1926. In late 1926, she disappeared from all amateur rankings and tournaments including the four majors. Her 1920 instructional book Lawn Tennis for Girls impressed me. The title is ironic because her father taught her techniques of male players while acknowledging differences in amount of force physically generated.
Women rarely became champions hitting forehands with a continental grip; yet Lenglen used it on her forehand with a one handed backhand eastern grip. Many wrote, including Suzanne and her father, that she hit “flat” shots. Chuck Tomlin’s Congruent Tennis Model (CTM) is called the “rosetta stone” of tennis instruction because it often explains through a higher resolution things players and tennis writers of the past did not see due to the limitations of their contextual paradigms. After studying film of her, through CTM, which looks at “flat” shots through the prism of trajectory and shape, I surmised she hit primarily “fades”, whose "flatter" trajectory to the untrained eye may look like "no spin" even when it has some degree of "spin." Mary K. Browne, after playing her 38 times in singles, stated Suzanne hit her shots a foot higher than the men and wrote, " 'What good is a brilliant thought behind the ball which ends in the net?" asks Suzanne. Obviously, the answer is: ‘No good.’ She rarely loses points by netting, and in many of her hardest matches the point score will show not more than half a dozen nets, compared with twenty or thirty for nearly any capable player you can mention.” My deduction Suzanne hit a lot of “fades” with diagonal axis topspin was confirmed when I later discovered Browne wrote Suzanne’s “cross court fade” (Mary's exact description) was nearly unhittable.
Context is important. Lenglen lost the finals of the French Championships on clay in 1914 at age 14, when only French residents were allowed to enter. A week later, Suzanne won the World Hard Court Championship barely age 15. The French Championship was not considered a “major” tournament until 1925 when all “amateurs” could enter. “Hard” courts in Europe referred to clay. Some list the World Hard Courts Championship pre-1925 as a “major” tournament since anyone could compete. It’s interesting that among his daughter’s great accomplishments, Charles doesn’t even list the six singles, six doubles, and six mixed doubles titles Suzanne won at the French Championships.
Charles held Suzanne out of the 1914 Wimbledon since she had not yet played on grass. World War 1 broke out and tournaments in Europe were canceled in 1915, 1916, 1917, and 1918. It was believed Suzanne would have added to her number of World Hard Court Championships, French Championships, and Wimbledon Championships the four years the tournaments were not played.
In an eight-year period from 1919 to 1926 Suzanne lost only one tennis match on court, to world #2 Molla Mallory at the 1921 US Championships. Lenglen had beaten Mallory 6-2, 6-3 earlier in 1921 at the World Hard Court Championships. They decided to play doubles together at the US Championships after Suzanne traveled to America, against her father’s advice. The long steamship trip across the ocean left Suzanne sick with almost no practice in the three weeks before her first match. There was no seeding for the US Championships in 1921, and the draw resulted in the two best players in the world scheduled to meet in the second round. Lenglen thought she would get a warm-up match before meeting Mallory, but Eleanor Goss, her first-round opponent, defaulted due to illness. Meanwhile Bill Tilden practiced intensely with Mallory telling her to tear the cover off the ball.
With 8,000 fans waiting to see Lenglen play Goss, officials moved the Lenglen vs Mallory match to later that same day. With virtually no warmup, Suzanne lost the first set 6-2 and was down love-30 in the next game before retiring due to illness and coughing. Lenglen also withdrew from the women’s doubles. The American press nicknamed Lenglen “cough and quit.” Scheduled to play a series of exhibition matches to raise money for France, which had been devastated by the war, she played twice raising $1,600 before two doctors confirmed she was ill and advised her to take a few months off. She got revenge on Mallory in 1922 Wimbledon finals 6-2, 6-0, and later 6-0, 6-0, in 1923 in Europe.
The 1921 US championships pitted the two best women in 2nd round and the two best men in the 4th round when Tilden and Johnston met. Seeding of players for the 1922 US Championships returned. 16-year-old American Helen Wills lost the 1922 final of the US Championships to Mallory and subsequently went on a winning tear much as Lenglen had done across the Atlantic. Wills beat Mallory to win the 1923 US Championships at age 17 and Lenglen, in a Sports Weekly (London) interview stated she would be happy to meet Miss Wills and if she lost, would be happy to go into coaching the next prodigy even if it was Wills.# In 1924, Helen Wills, now 18, traveled to London in to play her first Wimbledon where she hoped to meet 5-time defending champion Suzanne Lenglen.
Lenglen battled jaundice in 1924. In the Wimbledon quarters of 1924, feeling ill, she lost the second set to her doubles partner, Elizabeth Ryan before winning but was exhausted afterwards. Advised by doctors to rest, she withdrew before her semifinal match to Kitty McKane. In the second semifinal, Helen Wills won before losing to McKane in the finals. Taking off the rest of the year to rest, Suzanne missed the 1924 Olympics and teenager Helen Wills won two gold medals for singles and doubles. For 1925, Suzanne, though world #1, changed her game for the better, “I altered my pace more often and was hitting my volleys harder, particularly overhead. I managed continually to get a good deal of swerve and cut on my second service. It is the swerve in flight, that deceives your opponent as much or more than the break or kick after the bounce.”# Note how as champion, she still sought to improve.
Anticipation grew over when Wills and Lenglen would finally meet. Wills didn’t return to Wimbledon for 1925 when Lenglen crushed Joan Fry in the final 6-2, 6-0. Helen, now 3-time defending US Champion, was never one to dodge a challenge. In early 1926 she traveled to France to train for the French Championship and Wimbledon. The matchup might have happened earlier except it was suspected Charles Lenglen waited for a large enough appearance fee (so much for amateurism) to host their first meeting. In February 1926 Suzanne, age 26, finally met 20-year-old Helen Wills in the finals of a tournament in Cannes, France in what was hailed as the “Match of the Century.” Special stands had to be constructed for the final as overflow crowds demanded tickets. The press covered this tennis match as front page news. Lenglen defeated Wills 6-3, 8-6 in a close and exciting match.
After the 1926 “match of the century”, it was expected the Lenglen-Wills rivalry would extend several years with potential upcoming matches at the French, Wimbledon, and US Championships in 1926 where they would be seeded #1 and #2. Wills and Lenglen never met again due to circumstances.
Wills and Lenglen were on opposite sides of the draw of the 1926 French, the second “major” tournament played in the calendar year. Before her second round match, Helen became ill with appendicitis, requiring emergency appendectomy surgery. The draw opened up and 35-year-old Mary K. Browne wound up losing to Lenglen in the finals 6-1, 6-0. Wimbledon was held one week after the French in 1926 and thus Wills, already slotted in the Wimbledon draw, had to withdraw, precluding a potential rematch with Suzanne. Wills did not defend her ’23, ‘24, and ‘25 US Championships in 1926 due to still recovering from surgery.
Lenglen never lost a match in singles on court at Wimbledon in eight visits and 1926 should have been her seventh title. Suzanne withdrew after winning her first two matches regarding a miscommunication over her third singles match. Suzanne thought her doubles match was first and missed the singles match, leaving the Queen waiting. After Suzanne experienced a pain in her arm, the crowd turned on Suzanne after the press shamed her. On Monday of the second week she withdrew due to neuritis (nerve inflammation) in her arm.# Because both Wills and Lenglen were forced to withdraw from Wimbledon, Kitty McKane Godfrey emerged as champion a second time.
The poor treatment of Lenglen at the 1926 Wimbledon likely figured in her decision to become the first tennis star to play for pay. Charles C. Pyle in 1926 announced he would start the first professional player’s tour. The USLTA was unwilling to change the rule that “pros” were banned from Davis Cup and sanctioned tournaments including the four “majors.” Playing for one’s country in Davis Cup the first half of the 20th century was usually viewed as more important than winning a major.
Pyle paid Suzanne a $50K guarantee but when Wills and Mallory refused to turn pro, Pyle offered Lili de Alvarez a fortune but she turned it down. Mary K. Browne, ranked world #6 in 1925, was signed for 35K guarantee to play Suzanne in forty cities. The Lenglen-Browne series ended four months later after 35 straight match wins by Lenglen though Browne won a one set match 6-3 in the 36th meeting. Suzanne pocketed a $50K gate receipts bonus so her $100K total for four months work was 30K more than Babe Ruth, baseball’s highest paid player, made in 1927. In today’s money, Suzanne made 1.5 million dollars in 1927. In July Lenglen played a short pro tour in England winning eight matches against two women before retiring from playing at age 28. Charles Lenglen, heartbroken his daughter turned pro, died of poor health in 1929 three years after he wrote these six articles.
In 1932, Lenglen began tennis training and applied for reinstatement as an amateur to resume playing, but was denied even though Paul Feret was reinstated after playing the pro tour with her. In 1933, Suzanne returned to tennis by coaching at Roland Garros, home of the French Open, where a 10,000 seat court honors her today. She taught children and adults. At age 35, appendix surgery and other health problems accumulated resulting in her death on July 4, 1938 at age 39. Her cause of death was related to anemia, which it was believed came right behind a diagnosis of leukemia.
Charles Lenglen on 20 year old Helen Wills, “My opinion of the young American Champion is that she has before her a career of great promise and that she will develop into a more brilliant player than she is today.” Howard Kinsey, playing for Pyle’s tour, watched Browne, paid extra for making it close or taking a set, work to beat Lenglen. He proclaimed Mary had improved enough from playing Lenglen that Browne could finally beat Helen Wills.# The irony is later in 1927, Browne was the first pro allowed into Forest Hills when she was invited to practice with Helen. Browne wrote about it for UPI, expecting after winning a couple sets with Lenglen near the end of the tour, she might impress Wills. Mary admitted, “Helen smeared me,” noting Helen hit a lot of balls she couldn’t touch, beating her 6-0.She felt Wills had improved a lot since her loss to Suzanne and might have a chance to beat her now.
Though Wills was known for hitting her forehand extremely hard, most women who played against both Lenglen and Wills agreed Suzanne was superior due to her wider variety of shots. Browne wrote about Suzanne, “She is not, as everyone supposes, a prodigy at all. She is a product of intelligent coaching, persistent practice, and keen observation….. The most subtle feature of her game is a change of pace.” Browne also wrote that other women before Lenglen “did not have the same quality of coaching and systematic training in technique.” Charles and Suzanne studied instructional books. She used a backboard extensively. Her father took her wherever he thought she would get help.
15 years research taught me stories of events might not be true even if just honest mistakes. J. G. B. Morse wrote in 1921, after playing Suzanne on Riviera, he remembered seeing her at age 7 retrieving tennis balls on the Riviera and wrote she started tennis by 8. Her father claimed she started at age 11. Someone is misremembering or exaggerating. There are valid reasons to doubt Morse’s version.
Suzanne was no proper “lady” by 1920s standards. Sometime after 1919, she started smoking and drinking besides the occasional sip of cognac to calm her nerves on court. Franz Lidz, gave a great quote about her uniqueness as a rebel in Oct 16, 1991 Sports Illustrated. He refers to the famous writer Grantland Rice watching the Lenglen-Wills match. “Rice and his fellow Americans were mostly homers. The exception was Haywood Broun, a beefy Brooklyn-born columnist for the New York World. Lenglen was Broun’s kind of woman. She smoked, she drank, she kept her training to a minimum, she was a nervous wreck. ‘She moves through one of the most exacting of all strenuous games. And remains in appearance morbid,’ he wrote. ‘Suzanne is the finest of all champions, for she wins, and wins. And still avoids the reproach of being an ideal or a good example to anyone.’”
The importance of good coaching of technique that is congruent, simplistic, and aligned with history cannot be overemphasized. There are only so many ways a human can move to strike a ball today, as a century ago. In my upcoming book, The History of US Tennis Instruction: 1874-2020, I discovered Richard Williams, father of Venus and Serena, like Charles Lenglen, studied, tested, and put a lot of thought into a plan that made sense to him based on best info available to him. One piece of bad data that is not “congruent” can limit any athlete’s potential. Congruency between coaches, parents and students in interpreting technique and tactics, burned into the player’s muscle memory in deliberate practice, allows the player to play their best by feel and instinct without thinking too much on court. Parents as well as coaches should heed the lessons of history. END
(Below six articles from 1926 were written by Charles Lenglen & transcribed word for word by John Carpenter for distribution. This transcription first appeared on Chuck Tomlin’s and John’s website introducing the Congruent Tennis Model: www.congruenttennis.com)
Article 1 of 6: Sunday June 13, 1926 Minneapolis Star Tribune p.44
Daughter's Possibilities Were Noted When She Was Infant
French Net Marvel Began Playing Game When She Was 11 Years Old, Using Toy Racquet Given to Her on Birthday-- Several Years Later Became Sensation by Defeating Some of the Leading Players of Europe.
(This is the first of a series of life stories of Suzanne Lenglen, the greatest woman tennis player that ever lived, as told by her own father.)
By Charles Lenglen. Copyright, 1926. by North American Newspaper Alliance.
It is almost necessary for me to write the truth about my daughter’s training to quiet the ridiculous legends which have grown up about her. I have heard that it has been said that when she plays she is under my hypnotic influence and that her movements and play are suggested by telepathy and suggestion. There are numbers of other stories, equally absurd.
Without writing a technical treatise, I hope to set forth in these articles the exact manner in which she became champion of the world. I will tell only of the methods I have used for there are many books on tennis in general. Coupled with Suzanne's remarkable aptitude and her great will to succeed these methods have made her the player she is today.
The method is very simple and not at all mysterious. Anyone can follow it and any young player with perseverance can become, it not a champion, at least a player of rank. The time required for training is not long. A player develops day by day. Tennis is a difficult sport which is constantly perfecting itself by the appearance of new and interesting methods.
No one can hope to become and remain a champion without constant and regular practice which includes the mastery of all the newly discovered methods of play.
Must Fight Hardest at Top. For those young people who are devoted to the sport and who are ambitious to become champions, I have a few words of advice. They are the same that I have often preached to my own daughter.
Do not forget that It requires tenacity of purpose and hard work to arrive.
When you have developed into a first-class player, you will have to fight, not only against your opponents, but against yourself. You will have to lead a calm, temperate life in order to acquire and to retain your form. The higher in the scale you go the harder your work will become and the more difficult it will be for you to retain your place. Finally, you may become champion. You will then be a legitimate prey to all those beneath you who are trying to push their way up. Sometimes this will give way to mean jealousies and these you must overlook. Your weaknesses will be grossly exaggerated and the hour of your failure eagerly looked forward to. The slightest variation in your play will be Interpreted as a signal of your decline.
In June, 1910, Suzanne Lenglen, who was then 11 years old, received as a present her first tennis racquet, if that dubious instrument could properly have been called a racquet. It was one of these toy affairs that can be found in any shop, and at the time I did not think that she would make better use of it than other children of her age, Ordered Special Racquet.
At first I paid little attention to her, allowing her to play with her little friends on the tennis court which I had constructed in my garden. "At the end of about a month, however, I was so pleased by the dexterity which she showed with her toy racquet that I ordered from one of the Paris manufacturers a racquet which was both light and well balanced, made especially to suit a girl of her age.
Then, in order that I might get a more definite idea of what she was capable of, I often played with her. The progress she made was as rapid as it was surprising. Even at that youthful age she showed signs of her developing genius for tactical execution.
In the month of September, that Is to say only three months after she started, we visited a friend of mine, Dr. Cizelly, who lived at Coize near Chantilly. The doctor was a great tennis enthusiast and owned a court-- a rare thing those days in France. It was there that Suzanne played her first game before a gallery.
The annual Chantilly tournament was about to commence and I decided to enter my daughter, then aged 11. I was prompted to make this decision by the fact that some of the best French players of that time, among whom were William Laurentz and Marguerite Broquedis, were going to take part. Suzanne was entered in the handicap ladies' singles with the handicap of plus 15, 3-6. (i. e., she received one point every game and two points every other game). She came through four rounds and took second prize, to the great astonishment and amusement of all the contestants.
Permitted to Play at Nice. A few months later when I returned to Nice, where I used to spend my winters, I applied for her admission to the Nice Lawn Tennis club of which I was a member, and by special dispensation, because children were not allowed at the club, I obtained permission for her to play on Thursdays and Sundays, the days when she had no school. The Nice club and the other clubs of the Riviera were frequented by some of the best racqueteers of the world, among whom were the celebrated brothers Doherty. Ritchie, Anthony Wilding, the Allen brothers, the American champion, Alexander, the Australian Doust, Max Decugis, Maurice Germot and others of equal note. Among the women were Mrs. Lambert Chambers, Miss Eastlake Smith, Mrs. J. Tripp, Mrs. Winch, the Countess von Schulenberg, and Fraulein von Kron.
Here was an opportunity for me to make a profound study of the game for, at the time, I myself had only a very superficial knowledge of the tactics and technique of advanced tennis. This knowledge was absolutely worthless from the point of view of the super-tennis played at the Nice club, where even players of the second class ranked high in general tennis.
Develops Man's Style. I used to come to the club every day in order to study the strokes and the mannerisms of play of these great masters of the sport, with the ultimate purpose in mind of being able to teach my little Suzanne the best points of each player and to make of her tennis a composite of their finest tennis qualities.
The play of the English women consisted mostly of long rapid drives placed accurately along the lines, and impressed me by its great regularity and calm, reasoned placing. But I must admit that I had eyes only for the play of the men who astounded me by the remarkable superiority of their methods. Why then, I asked myself, should not women adopt the masculine method? Is there any good reason why they do not do so, or is it merely a matter of custom and precedent? It seemed to me that with a well directed course of training any woman could be taught the game as it was played by the men though naturally she would be unable to play it with the same degree of force.
With this idea in mind, I waited expectantly for my daughter to gain a little more experience, in order to start her training in masculine methods.
It was necessary for my daughter to do an enormous amount of work before she could show any appreciable results in this direction. She had need of all her tenacity of purpose and all the help given her by her comrades at the Nice club.
I was well seconded in my endeavors by Mr. Alvardo Rice, the secretary of the Nice club, who took a great interest in Suzanne and to whom I would here like to pay tribute, for he was one of the finest men the sport has ever known.
Represents Club at 13. At 13 years of age Suzanne was chosen by the committee of the Nice club to represent it in an inter-club match played against the club of Bordighera, Italy. for the possession of the Challenge Shield offered by Mr. Rice. The Bordighera club was composed largely of English players who wintered on the Riviera. When the day of the match arrived Suzanne, accompanied by her mother, left for Bordighera. They were warmly welcomed by the women of the club, who thinking that my wife was the opponent sent by the Nice club, attempted to direct her to the dressing room to change into her tennis costume. I will not try to describe their surprise when my wife, pointing to the diminutive Suzanne, informed them that there stood the chosen representative of the Nice club.
Was the Nice club so poor in players that it had to resort to infants to represent them in interclub matches? Or was it a practical joke? Surprise and curiosity gave way to amusement which soon changed to chagrin as my little daughter carried off the victory in the two matches in which she played. The year after in the month of January, (1914) G. M. Simond, the well known English tournament manager and umpire, entered Suzanne in the Carlton club of Cannes tournament with the hope of seeing her meet Mrs Winch who was at that time one of the best English players. She was also entered in the mixed doubles in which she won the first prize with the great Anthony Wilding who had expressed a desire to have her as a partner.
She encountered Mrs. Winch in the finals which lasted three long and grueling sets. The victory fell to Suzanne, 14 at the time, who was warmly congratulated by her English opponent. At the beginning of the third set, Suzanne was so fatigued that she wanted to default. I pointed out to her that her opponent was equally tired.
"It is not good tennis then," she replied, "it is courage that will win this match"-- that was how she won. From that day to this, all opinions to the contrary notwithstanding, I maintain that my daughter has proved to all unbiased spectators, that she is as courageous a player as any that ever stepped on a tennis court.
This victory, which no one would have dared to forecast, caused quite a flurry in tennis circles on the Riviera and England, where the high standing of Mrs. Winch was well known. The directors of the Nice club frankly admitted that they had thought the victory an impossible one for Suzanne and began to interest themselves greatly in my infant prodigy. For me, it was the direct factor which decided me to devote myself entirely to her training. Since the career of Suzanne is somewhat wonderful throughout, I would like to tell of the following incident which took place during a vaudeville performance given at the Casino Municipal de Nice, in 1912. Among other vaudeville turns, there was a hypnotist accompanied by a medium who served as his subject.
Predicts Great Fortune. They performed experiments in mental telepathy, thought reading and fortune telling. The woman, her eyes blindfolded, asked the spectators first to hide something on their persons, which she, without knowing the nature of the hidden object, would endeavor to find. That succeeding, she would try to answer a question in the mind of the person for whom she had found the hidden object.
While waiting for them to come near us I stuck a pin in a newspaper, which I folded and hid in one of the inside pockets of my coat.
The medium in a very short time, drew the newspaper from my pocket, unfolded it and withdrew the pin.
I then concentrated on the following question: "Will my daughter one day become "champion of France?"
In a few seconds the medium answered--Better than that-- Better than that.”
Suzanne is today champion of the world. (Next Sunday-How I Trained Suzanne)
Article 2 of 6: June 20, 1926 Minneapolis Star Tribune p.33
Father Alone Supervised Training of Court Queen
Physical Fitness and Technical Development of Strokes
Made Mlle. Lenglen Tennis Player She Is Today, Her Dad Claims--Asserts Quality, Not Quantity of Practice Is What Counts-- Players Her Professors.
(Life story of Suzanne Lenglen as told by her father and sole trainer, Charles Lenglen.)
By Charles Lenglen. Copyright of North American Newspaper Alliance
Who, was the trainer of your daughter?
Who was her professor?
How many times these and similar questions have been put to me. I am going to answer them very briefly. I was her sole trainer and anyone can follow my methods, which I believe are direct and simple. In the first place I was very careful to keep her under my exclusive direction and I laid out a program -which we followed with the greatest care. No one else had a hand in her training as I believe that too many cooks spoil the broth.
As for her professors, they consisted of every male player whose play appealed to me, willing and kind enough to help me. A great deal of time was spent in watching these players, for that in itself is an excellent lesson and is often worth more than playing lessons with professional teachers. These latter, although excellent trainers, often show but slight aptitude or inclination when it comes to the demonstration of the different strokes.
From the tactical point of view Susanne always learned more from the amateur than she did from the professional. It was the tournament play that develops tactical technique and professionals rarely have a chance to compete in tournaments.
Always Played Against Men.
In her actual practice Suzanne always played against men, as I felt that the ladies' game lacked the amount of hard practice necessary for her. I made her learn every stroke in the game, without exception, and she practiced particularly those strokes upon which she showed weakness.
For profitable training the essential in an adversary is steadiness and regularity rather than brilliance. The more often the ball is sent back and forth, the better. I may add that such an adversary was not always easy to secure. Each player in order to better his game seeks a stronger opponent and on the other band it is only natural for the good players to avoid the weaker ones.
This reminds me of an amusing little incident, which goes to prove that this spirit exists even among the most veritable tyros, as well as among the players whose distinction gives them a right to pick and choose their opponents.
When Suzanne was 15, she was still small and frail for her age and her tastes, habits and behavior were those of a very little girl. It was in the month of August 1914, a few months after she had won the hard courts championship of the world, at St. Cloud. Driven from our home in the north by the German invasion, we had just arrived at Royan, a seaside resort near Bordeaux, where we had no acquaintances.
Barred From Game. Suzanne used to play alone on the beach, but she found her game lonesome and monotonous. Seeing some tennis nets stretched on the beach, she approached the young players, hoping to be permitted to play with them. When she had made her purpose known they adopted a high and mighty air with her.
“In the first place." they asked, "have you a racquet?"
"Oh, yes," she answered.
This surprised them, but they evidently were sure that in any event she could not be an opponent worthy of their steel, for one of them in a rather haughty manner informed her that they could not be bothered with people who did not know how to play. Without insisting,
Suzanne, amused, in spite of the lump in her throat, left them.
The next day one of their friends, who had seen Suzanne play at the Royan club, recognized her on the beach.
"Look," said he, "there is Suzanne Lenglen."
Incredulous, they began to laugh at him, but he Insisted, just to make sure, one of these young people approached Suzanne and said to her; "Mademoiselle, can you play tennis?"
"Yes," she answered, "but I am going to play at the club."
"What good luck you have. Do you know Suzanne Lenglen?"
"We are Inseparable. As a matter of fact I live with her."
"Does she ever come to the beach to play?"
"Oh yes, she simply adores making sand pies."
“Have you ever played with her?"
"Certainly," answered Suzanne, "she never plays without me."
At that moment I came upon the scene.
"Are you coming home, Suzanne?"
Then the young people understood. "Then you are really Suzanne Lenglen," they asked, astonished.
I replied for her, and we left them to consider their refusal of the day before.
Training for Tennis. I am now going to treat of the physical training of Suzanne and the method I made her follow. I recommend this method to any young player.
Tennis training is divided into two distinct parts, at both of which I carefully made Suzanne work.
1. The physical training.
2. The technical development of the stroke.
The practice of these two branches is equally necessary and I should even say indispensable, in order to attain the height of physical condition, a good wind, speed, and execution.
A healthy mind in a healthy body is the first essential. Suzanne's training was always profitable because she kept fit physically and mentally. I cannot stress this point sufficiently.
Indeed, I know of no great player who is not fit In these ways.
The best of players, when not in first class physical condition, immediately begins to show evidence of it in his game. For a time technical ability will carry a player through, but inevitably the strain of the game will begin to tell on a debilitated physical condition, and slowly but surely the game will sink to a mediocre level. Suzanne has never shown herself to advantage except when in the peak of physical condition.
For these reasons, Suzanne was always made to stop her training for a time, and to rest quietly. I believe that this is the only thing to do, as the work becomes unpleasant. Continued attempts at training only tend to aggravate the situation. At no time was she permitted to tire herself unnecessarily. During practice her reserve forces were never called upon, for the time comes when, if pushed too much, the system is unable to furnish sufficient energy for emergency use.
Most players are unfortunately unaware of the importance of proper practice. Interminable "knockups," endless sets, often with players of marked inferiority, constitute what they call practice. They install themselves on a tennis court, hit the ball with all their might for hours at a stretch, and the next day do it all over again.
The only result is that they become extremely tired. They leave the court, worn out and winded, yet often looking still for another set which would only tend to increase" their fatigue and further fasten their poor technique. That is what they call practice. Needless to say, such methods will leave them hopelessly mediocre.
Quality of Practice Counts. It Is not the amount of time spent in practicing that counts. It is the quality of practice that is of value and the manner in which it is carried out. Suzanne, perhaps, spends less time than any other player of her rank on practice, but she makes every minute count. A half hour every other day, occasionally dally, suffices to keep her in excellent form. Nevertheless, no matter how long the match or how hard she may be pushed by her opponent, she always emerges the less tired of the two.
The reason for this is extremely simple. It is that I have always considered the ordinary physical training as important and as indispensable as the tennis practice. That accounts for the fact that Suzanne often, after a hard-fought set, will come and chat with her friends, while her opponent, fagged and winded, can barely drag herself to the dressing room. Suzanne has been taught to train and harden herself by-regular physical exercises. Suzanne's physical training was prescribed by our good friend Colonel Mayes, who has written an interesting little volume on this subject. She has followed his system religiously. It consists of a series of exercises selected especially for tennis players (Colonel Mayes is himself a player of no mean ability) which are performed simultaneously with a series of breathing exercises. The lungs are filled to capacity and all the breathing is done through the nose.
Exercises 30 Minutes A Day.
I directed Suzanne to follow these exercises, morning and evening, In the open air when possible, or before a wide-open window. The time spent was between 15 and 20 minutes. Today Suzanne does these exercises automatically and thinks no more of them than she does of brushing her teeth. I have always attached much importance to these exercises and I earnestly recommend them to players who are desirous of making progress. Breathing exercises especially, are seldom regarded with sufficient seriousness. I insist that they are of the utmost benefit in developing and preserving a good wind. Colonel Mayes’ exercises are of great benefit, even to those who do not indulge in sports. They are excellent for reducing the weight and will contribute towards the development of the muscles.
Jumping the rope constituted an important part of Suzanne's training. It is excellent for the muscles of the arms and legs as well as for the wind. It is especially good for increasing the speed. After about 15 days of an exercise a player will find that he starts for the ball with much more ease and that there is less natural inertia to overcome. The amount of jumping should be progressive but very moderate the first few days.
With Suzanne, I used to count the number of jumps she could make each day before getting out of breath, trying each succeeding day to do a little better than the day before. At the slightest sign of fatigue, however, I made her stop. Thus I was able to keep track of the progress she was making and watch her improvement. The standing high jump was interspersed with running jumps, and I instructed her to imitate the kind of jumping that tennis requires. In this manner she improved her starting speed and I believe that Suzanne is faster on her feet than any other woman player in the world today.
During the first days of this training, she ran very slowly but gradually increased her speed, while I carefully watched the condition of her wind. At the slightest sign of breathlessness, I made her stop. I personally supervised all of her physical exercises and never permitted her to become winded or fatigued. I believe that this point is of the utmost importance. Next Sunday: stroke Practice.
Article 3 of 6: Sunday June 27, 1926 Minneapolis Star Tribune p.33
Suzanne Methodically Studied Every Tennis Stroke
French Wizard Rewarded for Tribulations and Patience
Mlle. Lenglen Has Been Taught From Beginning to Always Keep Eyes on Ball, Avoided Trick Strokes and Intricate Acrobatics, One of Few Women Players in World to Have Perfected Net Game Which She Likes Best.
(Another chapter of the life story of Suzanne Lenglen as told by her father and sole trainer, Charles Lenglen.) By Charles Lenglen. Copyright. 1926, by North American Newspaper Alliance.
In teaching Suzanne the technique of tennis, the goal that I set myself was a very difficult one to achieve. I wanted her to become absolute mistress of every known stroke and of every conceivable branch of play. These I wanted her to perform with the utmost precision possible, in order that her game should show as I think it does today, absolutely no weakness. I consider that that is of primary importance and one can readily see why.
It is well understood that a player, if he has the slightest idea of tennis tactics, will first seek out his opponent's weak spot and then will concentrate all his effort on this spot. The necessity of possessing a complete and perfect repertoire of strokes is therefore self-evident. The perfect player must fear no attack, must be able to execute with ease every stroke, and must be able to attack his opponent on his weakest and most vulnerable side. That is why I made Suzanne learn all the strokes, making her work at each of them without let-up until she was perfect. One must not think that these strokes were mastered without an effort, or that they were learned in a few lessons. It required long and patient hours of hard work. Some of the strokes were not mastered before months had passed, but never did Suzanne lose courage or give up in despair.
Avoided Exaggerated Gesture. Style is another Important matter and I have always emphasized it. It makes the play beautiful and graceful and conserves a tremendous amount of energy. I never permitted Suzanne to indulge in exaggerated preparatory gestures. They are useless, fatiguing and unnatural and she was always put on her guard against them. Her racquet has always been the best I could find, well balanced, and about 13 to 13.5 ounces in weight.
A too heavy racquet plays havoc with the forearm, the wrist and the elbow.
The tension of the stringing is of the utmost importance and some players cannot play with a racquet that is not very tightly strung. Suzanne is one of these and she will abandon a racquet the minute that it shows the slightest signs of loosening its tension.
Prefers Light Shoes. Until she was 13 Suzanne used a 13-ounce racquet, but after that age she preferred a slightly heavier one. The handles are flat and permit her to hold the racquet well in hand and with a firm and well controlled grip. The choice of tennis shoes is also of great Importance. I have always recommended for her shoes in which she is always at ease, shoes of light weight, and with thin rubber soles. Heavy, thick soled shoes, impair the speed, make the feet feel heavy, and soon tire the player.
Shoes that are too light wear out too quickly and do not afford sufficient protection to the feet. We have found the hemp-soled shoes to be of some service, but they usually require the insertion of a lambskin sole to prevent the foot from rubbing against the hemp and fastening. Suzanne wears canvas shoes with rubber soles of light weight. After trying all kinds we have found these to be the most satisfactory.
At the Wimbledon tournament which is played on grass courts, she wears rubber slippers, like the ones worn for sea bathing, which help to keep her from slipping.
Eyes Always on Ball.
Once the ball is in play, Suzanne has been taught never to take her eye off of it, especially at the time of hitting it. She holds her racquet naturally, and swings it gracefully and easily. She follows each ball through in the direction which she wishes it to follow and pays particular attention to the finish of the stroke. It is important that the last contact of the racquet be precise. Her grip tightens as the racquet hits the hall and then loosens and she again holds the racquet in a free and easy manner.
The ball takes its direction from the angle of the racquet at the last contact and will either go out of bounds or into the net if this angle is too open or too closed. The best drive is the one that comes nearest to the net without going into it.
Miss J. Tripp, who some 10 years ago was one of the best English Players, had such a drive, and I was so impressed by it that I made Suzanne try to imitate it. She is one of the few women players who have furnished an example for Suzanne.
Much of our time was spent reading and studying the different books written by tennis experts, from which there is much to be learned. Although Suzanne carefully watched the champions in her younger days and did her best to Imitate them and copy their strokes, if I thought that they were of value I was always careful to see that she retained all the while her own manner of play.
Studied Play of Others.
Thus, we studied the forehand of one and the backhand of another. A third had a fine service and the fourth a spirited volley, all of which without further ado Suzanne set out to imitate and appropriate. The selection of these strokes was of supreme importance and we always kept in mind their compatibility with Suzanne's personal aptitudes.
We avoided trick strokes and intricate acrobatics. These are frequently undependable, and of little value in tournament competition. I made her spend almost as much time in watching other players as in playing herself. There’s a lot more benefit to be gained out of watching a good player than playing against a poor one.
Each player has his own individual style which is more or less a matter of self expression. This it is impossible to imitate, and we never attempted it because I was quite satisfied with the graceful style of my daughter.
We were quite satisfied to learn the stroke and leave the style to its original owner. Besides, as Suzanne learned almost entirely from men players, and as her manner of play is entirely feminine, not only did she have to learn the stroke, but in a manner of speaking, she also had to change its sex. The physical limitations of her sex left no other course open. I do not believe that any one ought to try to teach style. That is something which the learner develops for himself and I have seen many an awkward, clumsy player, playing a first-class game.
Style Her Own. Suzanne's style is distinctly her own, and I could not make her alter it if I wanted to. I cannot, for instance, see Suzanne imitating the style of Miss Ryan, or vice versa. They have two distinctly separate manners of play and yet each, in her way, gets good results.
All through Suzanne's early training I tried to make her work methodically, following a program that I had laid out.
Briefly, this program is as follows:
We started with drives, and she applied herself especially to the mastery of a drive that would graze the net, and with plenty of length drop as near as possible to the base line. Once mastered, she varied it by placing it as close as possible to the side lines and then cross court. Next came the same strokes executed with the backhand and then the half volley.
Nor did I forget the lob, the good old dependable lob, which, when well executed is the "bete noir'' of -the player who rushes to the net. I made her learn to lob just high enough to escape the player at the net and just far enough to drop the ball as near as possible to the base line. She avoided the high lob because with its high bound it permits the opponent to run back in ample time to return it. This kind of lob has only one advantage. It gives the player sufficient time to return from a precarious position.
Rarely Double Faults.
The overhead service which was then used by very few women, required on account of its variety of execution long and careful study. A steady, placed, and double-faultless service was finally arrived at and I daresay that today Suzanne makes fewer double faults in a year than the average player makes in a match.
Then began her apprenticeship at the net which she found very enjoyable. High and low volleys and smashes were her delight. She is one of the few women in the world today who have a net game worth speaking of. The majority of women players are still content to hover on the base line. "Go up to the net," they are often advised, but the advisers forget that one needs to do more than just go up to the net-- he has to learn to stay there, and that, without making oneself look ridiculous. This requires years of careful practice and Suzanne has paid for her perfect net game by long hours of application.
Liked Net Game.
Net-play looks so difficult that the average player despairs of ever mastering it. Nevertheless, it is one of the most essential and most interesting parts of the game. No player can. hope to succeed with a "weak” net game.
The first few trials at the net were very much to Suzanne's taste and she set out to master it in spite of its difficulty. I taught her to remain calm, to keep her mental and physical equilibrium, to take a firm grip on her racquet, to follow the ball closely with her eyes, and to time it exactly when she hit it. The nearer one is to the net the better. It is not possible for me to say exactly how far Suzanne stays from the net, as the distance varies. It is usually somewhere between three and nine feet.
I cannot but add a word of thanks here to the kind people who helped Suzanne through her early stages, and a word of appreciation for the professionals who untiringly sent her balls for her to smash back. (Next Sunday: Work Against the Wall)
Article 4 of 6: Sunday, July 4, 1926, Minneapolis Star Tribune page 18
Wall Prominent Factor in Developing Suzanne’s Game
Perfected Backhand and Increased Speed of Play
French Girl Worked Diligently with “Boresome Teacher” and Benefited Greatly, Her Father-Trainer Declares—Fine Wind Allows Queen of Courts to Outlast Rivals in Grueling Matches-Dreads Elizabeth Ryan Most.
By Charles Lenglen. Copyright, 1926, by North American Newspaper Alliance.
Suzanne owes her steadiness and regularity to hard work and constant practice. A great part of this practice was performed against the wall, and I cannot stress too much this phase of her training. The wall acts as an adversary. It is steady and tenacious and is at the same time unbeatable. It always has the last word when it comes to returning the ball. It is silent,
untiring and uncomplaining, yet the ball is returned as desired.
Some balls are returned slowly, and fast balls with equal speed. Even cut balls are returned in the same manner. In other words, as our friend Newton has put it, “to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” This gives the player any number of combination of shots which train both the mind, the eye and the reflexes.
Even today Suzanne practices against the wall. Now, however, it is a highly perfected movable and adjustable affair invented by Monsieur Bazile of Paris. Its surface is concave and capable of adjustment to any angle or inclination. This produces a greater variety of returns and renders the practice less monotonous.
Wall Perfected Backhand.
In the beginning Suzanne's backhand was undeniably weak and I am sure she owes its subsequent perfection to her silent partner, the wall. At my home I had two of these, an outdoor one, and an indoor one for bad weather. A little thing like rain was therefore no excuse for Suzanne to absent herself from the daily practice of her beloved game. These walls were marked with a line net high and the ground in front laid out like a tennis court.
At these walls she worked under my instruction, trying constantly to increase her steadiness. Tap, tap, tap, forehand and backhand, from all angles and corners of the court, for hours at a time, till finally she could send back several hundred balls without making an error. Of course, all this was monotonous and unexciting, so that I finally hit upon the happy expedient of making a sort of game of it. I promised her a prize every time she broke her own record. For a while this went very well, but afterwards she began to break her record so frequently that she surely would have ruined me.
Teaches Player Speed.
Another great advantage of this method of training is that it gives the player great speed. The ball comes back as rapidly as it is sent, and the player must constantly be on his toes to recover it. There is no let up and no breathing space, and the reflexes become sharpened to such an extent that the ball is sent back habitually and automatically. Low volleying can he practiced by standing about 10 feet away from the wall. The Bazile wall, on account of its inclinations, even permits smashing practice.
Speed is, in all sports, a factor of such great importance, that I would like to say a few words about it and its relation to tennis. In tennis, speed is one of the necessary adjuncts that every player must strive to acquire and retain and I have tried to inculcate this idea to the best of my ability in the mind of Suzanne.
When in 1912, the American player, Fred B. Alexander, visited the Cote d' Azur. where he participated in the principal tournaments, l had an undeniable proof of the advantage of speed in watching the play of this great champion. His footwork was so remarkable and his "get away" so brilliant that he made a tremendous impression upon me. "Remember this." I said to Suzanne, "the ball never has to wait for the player; it is the player who has to wait for the ball. You must get as near as you can to where you think the ball is going to land as soon as possible, for if you arrive late you have neither the time nor the facility to return it in the proper fashion. You must then either miss it or return it so weakly that your opponent has you at his mercy.”
Miss Ryan Example of Speed.
As an example of this, take the case of a slow player who plays against Elizabeth Ryan. She is headed towards certain defeat. Suzanne owes her success against the California champion to her great speed and her excellent footwork. Her quick "getaways" permit her to "rover" early enough to return the terrible chops with which Miss Ryan adorns her game and which assures her numerous points. She is probably the opponent Suzanne most dreads today.
Suzanne's speed not only permits her to resist her opponent, but also helps her to wind any player slower than herself. A player once winded is very close to defeat. Suzanne, through her method of training, has acquired a very good wind and were all else to fail she could easily win a match by making an endurance contest of it. There is no doubt, but that Suzanne's endurance stood her in good stead in her match against Helen Wills at. the Carlton club of Cannes in February, Numerous players, even of the first rank, succumb because of poor wind. I know champions who can win a match easily in three sets, but who go to pieces if by any chance, the match is dragged out to five sets.
Plays to Tire Opponent. In 1913, at the Monte Carlo tournament, I was discussing sports in general with Felix Poulin and Georges Gault, two of the best tennis players of the day, and I tried to get some good advice in order to facilitate the progress of Suzanne. "Tennis," Poulin said to me, "is in the first place 50 per cent speed, then 45 percent head work and finally 5 per cent arm work. You may know all the strokes in the game and your technique may be beyond reproach, but if you have no speed and cannot use your head you will never be a good player." Gault agreed with him.
I also saw the justice of these remarks, and I have never ceased repeating them to Suzanne. She took heed and profited thereby. It was to her interest to acquire plenty of speed and a reserve of energy. Careful and steady physical training brought both. The possession of these qualities has carried her through many a hard-fought contest against players whose experience was far greater than her own. Suzanne always tries to get off to a flying start. She begins with as great a burst of speed as she is capable of, trying almost from the very beginning to tire her opponent. The lead she takes is naturally very disconcerting and discouraging for her opponent who is thus provoked to commit numerous errors. It takes a well trained and physically fit woman to stand up against Suzanne, and not be gasping for breath at the end of the first set. I have never seen her come off the court more fatigued than her opponent, and I can well thank our wind and speed developing exercises for that. (Next Sunday: On Tactics.)
Article 5 of 6: Sunday, July 11, 1926, Minneapolis Star Tribune page 41
French Girl Forbidden to Play Aggressive Game Until She Became Stronger Physically.
(This is the fifth chapter of the life story of Suzanne Lenglen, queen of the tennis court, as told by her father and sole trainer, Charles Lenglen.)
By Charles Lenglen. Copyright, 1926, by North American Newspaper Alliance.
Tactics is the soul of the game of tennis-- the combination of all that a player has learned, and all that he can do, to beat his opponent. There are no hard and fast rules that can be laid down to govern tactics. The intelligence and the experience of the player alone can indicate to him which methods he ought to employ either to better resist, if his opponent is clearly his superior, or to outwit him if he feels sure that the opponent's game is about the same strength.
Not only must tactical ability be employed to present the greatest amount of opposition to an opponent, but to offset his plan of attack, to nullify his own tactics, to seek out his weaknesses, and to harass him into losing his control, his wind, or his courage.
When Suzanne first began to participate in tournaments she was hardly strong enough physically to withstand the hard driving game of most of her opponents. We therefore had to remedy this inferiority and employ a convenient method to substitute for her lack of strength and to re-establish an equilibrium which her physical weakness had destroyed. This was done by tactics.
Suzanne's perfect execution and the regularity of her strokes made me a little hopeful of success in a certain measure in spite of her youth and lack of muscular endurance. I worked on the basis that although a fine game was an appreciable asset, in Suzanne's particular case it would now be much better if she devoted herself entirely to keeping her opponent from playing well. In other words, I made her adopt a solely defensive game.
Worked at Opponent's Weaknesses.
Results showed that I was right. Her defense consisted of a play directed against the weak points of her opponents, waiting patiently for errors, and returning the ball in such a manner as to prevent them from using the strokes at which they were especially good, and which were the strength of their game. This method of play served us well until Suzanne grew older and stronger. Finally the day came when I felt that my little girl was strong enough for us to change our tactics. She then began to play along a well defined line of attack, with a reason for every stroke. As in chess, there were rarely any useless moves. She would send her opponent to one side of the court and then put a sizzling drive down the opposite side line. She would try to bring her to the net with a drop shot and then either pass her with a well placed drive or an accurate lob to the base line. A weak backhand, (and fortunately too many players possess one) is always legitimate prey for the brainy player. Suzanne plays steadily to the backhand of such a player and when it is least expected she suddenly changes her tactics and sends a surprise shot to the forehand which usually nets her the point.
Never Talks During Match. A quick succession of drives to the base line followed by a change of pace and a drop shot to the net, is another of her favorite tricks. Nor does she forget the importance of a few lobs at the end of a long rally. It gives her time to rest, to catch her breath, and to get into position for a finishing stroke. I have taught Suzanne never to talk to her opponent or to the people who are watching her play during a match. All her thoughts and all her attention are concentrated on the task before her. I have never permitted her to slow up her game or to become overconfident because of a good lead.
She knows the value of conserving her energy and she rarely indulges in needless movements or useless gestures on the court.
Especially, I have pointed out to her the folly of preparatory motions during tournament play. Some players brandish their racquets as if they were threatening their opponents; others contort their bodies into all sorts of fantastic positions before serving and waste more energy in so doing than in actual play. One young player on the Riviera cannot serve without trying to make her head disappear between her shoulders. Another bends so far back before she serves that she looks as if she were doubling up like a jack-knife.
Mr. Wallis Myers, the great English sporting writer and critic, wrote the following about Suzanne in the magazine "Tennis and Golf," of March, 1920. Suzanne was then 20.
Style Mixture of Ease and Elegance. "It is a fact that Mlle Lenglen is in a class by herself, but there is a reason why this little French artist wins so regularly and with so much facility. Her style is a mixture of ease and elegance. She has learned to impart the maximum amount of power with the minimum amount of effort. While others tie themselves into knots to execute difficult strokes, Suzanne performs them in a most natural manner and without any apparent effort.”
"Mademoiselle Lenglen possesses every known variety of strokes and can therefore concentrate all her attention on her strategy." The competence of Mr. Wallis Myers thus corroborates the advice I gave my daughter, which she followed out to the best of her ability. I have always insisted that Suzanne take great care with her first service in order to avoid the fatigue of serving twice. She has been taught to vary her service as much as possible. When she finds a service which seems to annoy her opponent she sticks to it. I have never been a great believer in violent tennis, and I have tried to make Suzanne see that it does not pay to sacrifice precision for violence. She has often beaten her opponent by prudent and defensive tactics. That is certainly the best way to beat an over-audacious player. Sooner or later, if he is given enough rope, he hangs himself.
Steadies in Face of Dangers.
When Suzanne sees her opponent showing the slightest sign of fatigue, she redoubles her efforts and speeds up the game. This is where the physical training that I have made her go through stands her is such good stead. Her splendid wind and enduring power can double her efforts when those of her opponent are halved.
Even with the score against her Suzanne does not lose courage. She has pulled many a set out of the fire by settling down to a steady courageous uphill climb when everything seemed to point to defeat. (Next Sunday: A Sketch of Mlle. Lenglen's Career.)
Article 6 of 6 : Sunday, July 18, 1926, Minneapolis Star Tribune p. 43
Beaten Only Once Between 1914-1926
Forced to Abandon Match With Molla in 1921 in U. S., But Showed Her Supremacy Over American in Succeeding Games.
(This is the final chapter of the life story of Suzanne Lenglen as told by her father and sole trainer, Charles Lenglen.) By Charles Lenglen. Copyright. 1926, by North American Newspaper Alliance.
Suzanne Lenglen was born at Paris, the twenty-fourth of May 1899. At an early age she manifested great aptitude for gymnastics and outdoor sport. When she was eight years old she was quite a good cyclist. A little later she developed a passion for the game of diabolo, which was all the rage at that time. She became very expert at this game and I believe that it did much to prepare her for her sporting career. At first her health was not too good, but the outdoor life that she loved so much did wonders for her and gave her a fine sporting temperament. This was of great benefit to her when she embarked upon her tennis career. She began to play tennis in 1910, at the age of 11 years. Her progress was so rapid that the month after her debut she carried off the second prize in the woman’s handicap singles at the tournament of Chantilly. This unexpected victory made us take up seriously her tennis training. She practiced at the Nice Lawn Tennis club under my direction.
World Champion at 15
In 1913, she won the regional championships of Picardy, in singles and in mixed doubles, and several minor championships in the north of France. In 1913, she won the Nice Lawn Tennis club championship. At that time, the Nice club was frequented by some of the best players in the world. In 1914, at the age of 15, she won her first championship of the world on hard courts, at the Stade Francais at St. Cloud.
At the St. Cloud tournament her opponent was Madam Golding, one of the best French players of that time. Madame Golding, then Mlle. Regmer, had met my daughter once, socially. It was during a visit to my house some 15 years before. Suzanne was about six days old. Little did Madame Golding think as she surveyed this infant that that little mite of humanity would one day separate her from a championship of the world.
That tournament was the last in which Anthony Wilding, the great Australian champion, ever played In France. He died gloriously in the war a great tennis player, and a brave soldier.
Played In Benefit Matches.
The war followed, and until 1919 Suzanne played on the Riviera with convalescing American, English and Australian officers, giving exhibitions for the benefit of the Red Cross. She practiced then with Griffin, Dean Mathey, Norris Williams, Werthelm and many other great players of rank. When the war was over she went to England for the first time in June, 1919.
She played in the Wimbledon tournament, where she won her first grass court championship of the world, by defeating Mr. Lambert Chambers in one of the greatest matches ever played. The score gives some indication of the severity and closeness of this contest. It was 10 8, 4-6, 9-7. Although playing on grass courts was new to her, she liked it very much. As a matter of fact, she prefers grass courts to hard courts. They are easier under foot, softer, and better for the vision. The ball stands out better against the green of the grass courts. The footing is not so good, however, and there are many amusing falls. During one mixed doubles match at Wimbledon, when Suzanne was playing with the French champion, Gobert, the latter wishing to execute a smash, flipped and fell. Suzanne, whose alertness prepares her for almost any emergency, covered the ball and dashing after it, made a splendid get, returning it as a high lob. In doing so, she also slipped and fell. By this time however, Gobert was on his feet and to the accompanying laughter of a very delighted gallery, he finished the point.
It is almost impossible to enumerate the many successes, which followed. From 1914 to 1926 she lost only one match. In 1921, during the American championships at Forest Hills, on account of illness, she was forced to abandon a match to Mrs. Mallory, then champion of America. A few months before this she had beaten Mrs. Mallory at the Stade Francais at St. Cloud, in the finals of the hard court championships of the world, by the score of 6 2, 6 3.
Defeated Conqueror Later. To further prove the irregularity of her defeat at Forest Hills, the next time she met Mrs. Mallory, in the finals of the grass courts world championships at Wimbledon, she defeated her by the score of 6-2, 6-0, and again in the finals of the International Championships of the South of France, she defeated Mrs. Mallory by the score of 6-0, 6-0.
Suzanne has beaten all the best players in the world whom she has met. Her last important match took place in the month of February, 1926, when she encountered Miss Helen Wills, the champion of America, In the finals of the singles championships at the Carlton club of Cannes and beat her by the scores of 6-3, 8-6.
My opinion of the young American Champion is that she has before her a career of great promise and that she will develop into a more brilliant player than she is today.
The French Academy of Sports awarded Suzanne the Potockl prize in 1920, and in 1922 the Grand Medaille d’Or, reserved for women.
To date, Suzanne has won 30 challenge cups representing a total of 90 victories. To conclude, I have tried to tabulate some of her most Important victories.
At the Wimbledon tournaments she has won: Six time the singles championship. Six times the women's doubles championship. Three times the mixed doubles championship.
At the hard court championships of St. Cloud and Brussels, she has won: Six time the singles championship. Five time the mixed doubles championship. Four time the women's doubles championship. A total of 15 hard court world championships.
It is my opinion that no athlete in the world has had such a record at Suzanne's age. END