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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 01:58 PM   #1
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Flapper girls-the roaring 1920s

Louloubelle's thread made me realize one decade is missing in our little history sections-the 1920s. Tired of the conservative society that dragged Europe into the "Great War" or "War to end alll wars" from 1914 to 1919, society let loose. The rich went from resort playground to resort playground and tennis followed the sun. What other era could have produced a woman like Suzanne Lenglen, who drank cognac on court and once received fans who came to congratulate her in her bathtub!

Lets pay tribute to the roaring 20s....

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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 01:59 PM   #2
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The dominant force in tennis from 1919 to 1926 was Suzanne Lenglen, shown here




Pre-1919 garb consisted of ankle length skirts and covered arms.
When Suzanne appeared in 1919 exposing her arms and with a shorter skirt many women (especially older women) walked out
muttering "French hussy". Most stayed however, and her daring fashion caught on.

This pic is a publicity shot (notice the cameramen and no crowd).
Stockings were worn (bare legs were considered risque) throughout this era until about 1927, when one brave girl forgot or lost hers and went on court anyway. She liked it so the fashion caught on

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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 02:04 PM   #3
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Yes How could you have forgotten the roaring 20's!
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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 02:07 PM   #4
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Smack me with a wet noodle Sam

Here's Lenglen's profile from the tennis hall of fame.

http://www.tennisfame.org/enshrinees...e_lenglen.html


In the days of ground-length tennis dresses, Suzanne Rachel Flore Lenglen played at Wimbledon with her dress cut just above the calf. She wept openly during matches, pouted, sipped brandy between sets. Some called her shocking and indecent, but she was merely ahead of time, and she brought France the greatest global sports renown it had ever known.

Right-hander Lenglen was No. 1 in 1925-26 the first years of world rankings. She won Wimbledon every year but one from 1919 through 1925, the exception being 1924, when illness led to her withdrawal after the fourth round. Her 1919 title match, at the age of 20, with 40-year-old Dorothea Douglass Chambers is one of hallmarks of tennis history.

Chambers, the seven-time champion, was swathed in stays, petticoats, high-necked shirt-waist, and a long skirt that swept the court. The young Lenglen was in her revealing dress that shocked the British at the sight of ankles and forearms. After the second set, Lenglen took some comfort from her brandy and won, 10-8, 4-6, 9-7, in a dramatic confrontation, rescuing two match points.

After her victory, Lenglen became easily the greatest drawing card tennis had known, and she was one of those who made it a major box-office attraction. Along with a magnetic personality, grace and style, she was the best woman player the world had seen.

Lenglen, born May 24, 1899, in Paris, played an all-court game such as few had excelled at. She moved with rare grace, unencumbered by the tight layers of garments others wore. She had extraordinary accuracy with her classical, rhythmic groundstrokes. For hours daily her father, Charles Lenglen, had her direct the ball at a handkerchief he moved from spot to spot. Her control was so unfailing that she thought it shameful to hit the ball into the net or beyond the line. In addition, she had so keen a sense of anticipation that she invariably was in the right position to meet her opponent's shot.

Her 1926 match against Helen Wills in a tournament at Cannes, France, caused a sensation. Tickets brought unheard-of wealth to scalpers, and the roofs and windows of apartments and hotels overlooking the court were crowded with fans. Lenglen, on the verge of collapse during the tense match, but saved by smelling salts and brandy, defeated the 20-year old Wills, 6-3, 8-6.

Lenglen's career was not free of setbacks, however. In the 1921 U.S. Championships, having lost the first set badly to Molla Mallory, Lenglen walked weeping and coughing to the umpire and said she could not continue, defaulting the match. She made up for it the next year at Wimbledon by defeating Mallory, 6-2, 6-0, in the final and did not lose another match for the remainder of her amateur career.

In the 1926 Wimbledon, Lenglen had a terrifying ordeal. She kept Queen Mary waiting in the Royal Box for her appearance when, owing to a misunderstanding or a failure of communications, Lenglen did not have the correct information about the time she was to be on court. The ghastly error was too much. She fainted and Wimbledon saw her no more as a competitor. She withdrew from the tournament, and that year went on a tour for money in the United States under the management of C.C. Pyle, winning all 38 matches against Mary K. Browne. It marked the start of professional tennis as a playing career.

At the age of 39, Lenglen died of pernicious anemia, July 4, 1938, in Paris. She was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1978. There was speculation that her health had been undermined by her long hours of practice as a young girl. But she had brought the glamour of the stage and the ballet to the court, and queues formed at tennis clubs where before there had been indifference. She had emancipated the female player from layers of starched clothing and set the short-hair style as well. During her career she won 81 singles titles (seven without the loss of a game!), 73 doubles and 8 mixed. She had brought the game of tennis into a new era.
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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 02:14 PM   #5
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Early pics of the "goddess" Lenglen. Legend has it her father made her practice until she could hit handkerchiefs on a court repeatedly(other variations I've read say coins).





These pics are about 1914-the year she stunned the tennis world by winning the World Hard Court title(foreunner of the French Open) at the age of 15. Her father decided not to risk her going to Wimbledon that year. When war came in 1914 Suzanne was safe in the south of France, practicing daily. Most other women didn't have that advantage, perhaps one reason why sge dominated after the war.
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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 02:17 PM   #6
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1921-she is wearing a "bandeau" around her head. After she first did this in 1920 it became a world-wide fashion trend within months. She never wore the same color bandeau twice in a row.
After 1914 Suzanne lost only one singles match-in 1921 to Molla
Mallory. She never wore the same colored bandeau she had on the day of her defeat.


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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 02:27 PM   #7
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Her stautue at Roland Garros. Does anyone know if this is in front of court Suzanne Lenglen?


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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 02:30 PM   #8
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She took ballet lessons in her youth. As you can see here-she was quite a limber Lenglen!




At Wimbledon



Wimbledon-1925

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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 02:51 PM   #9
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The famous match vs. Molla Mallory in 1921.

Molla was actually Norweigian and had come to the US as a masseuse. While there she quickly became US champ married a rich stockbroker. Molla is a bit of a mystery woman, her date of birth is sometmes given as 1884(which would have made her 37 in 1921! ) or the date I tend to believe more, 1892. Either way Suzanne had the advantage of youth.

In 1921 Suzanne played Molla on slow clay in Paris for the World Hard court, the 2nd biggest event after Wimbledon. Mallory had a defensive backhand but hit a devastating hard forehand. Lenglen won the first set easily at 6-2 but got so tired and nervous she was sipping cognac between games. At one point she was ready to default but her father dramatically ordered her to play on. She won 6-2 6-3 and Molla left the court muttering, "Wait til I get her on grass".

Lenglen was invited to come to America in the summer of 1921. The USTA and French associations planned a series of exhibitions to help France recover from the war devastation of WWI. Her father refused to come with her and told her not to go. Shades of Martina Hingis at Wimbledon without her Mom hang over what happened next, for she disobeyed her father and went to America anyway....

Seasick after a week on a ship, she only had a couple days practice before the US championships. In those days there was no seeding. Suzanne and Molla were destined by fate to play in round two. Worse yet, when Lenglen's first round opponent defaulted she agreed to meet Molla a day early rather than dissapoint the record crowd of 8,500. The stage was set for her only defeat as an adult...

Bill Tilden was a great friend of Molla's. He also hated Suzanne, who stole a lot of his press (her furs and bandeau got more ink than his "wooly bear" sweaters). Well, Bill supposedly sat Molla down in a chair before the match and filled her with hatred directed at Suzanne. He then caught up to Suzanne as she was going on court and told her, "No one can beat Molla today on this court". When the match started everything went Molla's way. American balls and grass were faster than in Europe, Molla raced around like a bee defending her hive, and Lenglen started coughing and holding her throat. Lenglen was booed heavily after she defaulted at 6-1 1-0. US paers called her "cough and quit" while the French defended their heroine.

A caricature of Molla "whipping" Suzanne.



Suzanne being escorted off the court after defaulting.


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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 02:55 PM   #10
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A cigarette card (you could get these cards when you bought a pack of cigarettes-they are expensive collectibles today) of her match in 1919 in the finals of Wimbledon.


Her opponent-the redoubtable and conservative Dorothea Lambert Chambers. Chambers was over 40 when they contested this epic match. Chambers had two match points for a record(at that time 8th) Wimbledon title. It often makes the list of best tennis matches ever.
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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 03:10 PM   #11
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Though stylish-most found found her very facially unattractive. Just look at those teeth! One women wrote: "She was as ugly as a totem pole, but her personality was so magnetic that one soon forgot this."




A better pic



With Bill Tilden. The smiles DO look a bit forced. They hated each others guts. Bill once tricked Suzanne by pretending to play poorly, then asking her to play against him. He wipped the court with her 6-0. When asked who won, Suzanne replied. "I can't recall, someone won 6-0, that's all I can say."

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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 03:47 PM   #12
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These photos are fantastic Rollo! I luurves them!

Does anyone know much about some of the lesser known players of the twenties and early thirties?

I'd be really curious to hear more about Elizabeth Ryan, Didi Vlasto, Cilli Aussem, Mary K. Browne (she lost a RG final to Lenglen 6-1, 6-0 the most lopsided GS final until Graf def. Zvereva at RG in 88 0 and 0). Actually, while I think of it, one of the funniest things I ever heard Bud Collins say was during that match when he was speaking of the only other double bagel in GS final. It was Wimby in the early teens I think and Bud said something along the lines of, "The last time something like this happened was in 1911 or so when Dorthea Douglas Lambert Chambers defeated Dora "Goose egg" Boothby 6-0, 6-0". Something about the name Dora Boothby and the nickname goose egg made me chuckle.
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Old Oct 16th, 2002, 07:19 PM   #13
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Glad you like the pics Pammy. I doubt they had stockings long enough to cover your legs you scandalous overtly het hussy Guess they had to be satisfied with Suzanne.

I have a book by Helen Jacobs called Gallery of Champions. Helen devoted a chapter to each winner of the "big 3" (the Aussie wasn't big then) she had ever faced. Which one would you like to know more on first? Just be patient with me, these days I'm occupied with Brain Stewart and Way collecting all the grand slam results.


P.S. Pam , if you live here in the US your public library can probably loan you Gallery of Champions via ILL. It's usually free
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Old Nov 21st, 2002, 09:21 PM   #14
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Al Laney was in Europe for the latter part of WWI and prior to returning the US, he, along with many other servicemen, lolled about on the Riviera prior to being repatriated. All the US & English stars of the pre-war years were there getting their games in shape for the resumption of tournament play in 1919 and he made friends with a Frenchman (who he did not identify) who was a tournament player pre-war and who had lost an arm during the war and whilst watching matches they had many long discussions...

"It was here on the terrace of this small cafe....that I first heard, during the glowing description of St. Cloud (where the last French champs were played in Paris in 1914), the name of Suzanne Lenglen. The Captain had seen a lot of her when she came as child to play the Riviera tournaments and had been her oppenent at Beaulieu when she played with (Tony) Wilding as a partner. She was then just a little girl with hair caught in one large curl down her back, but already she was quite sensational. She had, he said, even as a child the most extraordinary accuracy of stroke and mobility that permitted her to make incredible leaps about the court with never a loss of balance....And she still was a prodigy when, just short of her fifteen birthday in 1914, she won that last tournament at St. Cloud. Although that was his own last tournament of all, my friend seemed to remember Suzanne's matches as vividly as his own, possibly, he thought, because of the ecstatic reaction of the French public to her every victory.

Now, in 1919, although championship tennis had been abandoned for nearly five years, he felt sure that Suzanne had become the finest player of her sex there ever had been. As soon as the tournaments resumed this next season, she would be so proclaimed.

Laney then writes his friend informed him they could watch Suzanne practice at Cannes....

"I had no intention of returning to Cannes. With only a couple of days leave left I had not even seen Monte Carlo. But I did go back and I have never regretted it. The first glimpse of Lenglen was disappointing after the buildup the Captain had given her. She was seated on a bench at the side of a court alongside a rather fat woman with prominent eyes. I learned later this was her Mother and wherever you saw Suzanne, you would also see her...As soon as she began to play, all the people who had been wandering came and stood or sat by the court, neglecting tournament play to see Lenglen practice. This was a foreshadowing of what was to come, of the saying that became well known at Wimbledon - namely, that while Lenglen was not the only player who could fill the centre court, she was the only won who could empty it by playing outside.

She and the man player, possibly a professional, maybe Darsonval, the leading French pro at the time, played a series of games in which score was kept. It was a revelation. I had not at this time seen much top class women's tennis at all, and here was a girl with as much skill as, and a greater variety of strokes and a greater ease of execution than any man I had encountered. And with it a natural grace of movement that I have never seen equaled on a tennis court, and still have not. (Laney published his book in 1968). Later there came two other men to make up a doubles game, and here too Suzanne held up her end. She was the equal of the men in everything but severity, and their superior in mobilty and accuracy."

Skip to 1925 and Laney is back on the Riviera, again admiring Suzanne from the sidelines...

"I had watched carefully every stroke of four earlier matches...and, fascinated by her astonishing accuracy, had kept note of her outs and nets. Seeking to impress the "Queen" with my close attention to her play, I asked if she realised she had hit the net only four times in four matches. Suzanne looked at me with much condescension and replied, as though speaking to a small child, "But of course my little one. Once with Mlle Bouman in the first round, twice with Mrs Satterthwaite on Wednesday and once with Mlle Vlasto yesterday. I have been very careless this week, n'est-ce pas?"

Years later Laney reminded Suzanne of this.

"She replied that of course she hadn't kept track of all her errors, only the net, the reason being that "clear the net" had been drummed into her as a child by her Father and hitting it (the net) had been made to seem almost a crime. That, she said, was proper, since to hit the net was silly. The moment you did that the point was presented to your opponet with no effort on his part."

Suzanne concluded..."I never did hit the net", she said, adding what was almost the exact truth: "Nobody could hurry me enough for that. Well, except for Helen Wills a little."

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Old Nov 22nd, 2002, 06:44 AM   #15
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I never knew that Bill Tilden and Suzanne Lenglen hated each other? Was there a reason?

Anyway great photos, and I LOVE that one with Tilden and Lenglen, a photo of the two legends together
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