Born in 1904, to a wealthy family, Rene Lacoste was a man of many talents. This well known, French, tennis player was best known for his aggressiveness, both on and off the court. (Because of this, his fans aptly nicknamed him “the crocodile”.)
It is interesting to note, that Rene did not play his first game of tennis until the age of 15. In the beginning, he was far from being “a natural”, at the sport. At the time, his father issued an ultimatum, of sorts. He promised Rene that in exchange for becoming a world champion tennis player, within five years time, he would then allow him to choose and pursue whatever career goals he wanted.
During the late 1920s and early 1930s he more or less dominated the game…winning many grand slam titles, in various international tournaments. He was the world’s number one tennis player, in 1926 and 1927, as well.
He was a member, of the Four Musketeers. Playing alongside Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon and Henri Cochet, Rene helped to win eight French singles titles, six Wimbledon matches and six Davis Cups. These were all consecutive triumphs, covering a nine-year span.
Unfortunately, respiratory illness forced him to abandon his tennis career, at the young age of 25. He played his last match, in 1929. Little did he know, great things were yet to come.
Lacoste is probably most famous for his polo shirt among the wide assortment of Lacoste clothing offered. In 1933, he and longtime friend, Andre Giller, founded La Société Chemise Lacoste in order to produce and market a tennis shirt line, which featured their now famous crocodile embrodiered on the chest.
Those familiar with the history of the fashion industry will tell you that this Lacoste logo of a crocodile is probably the first instance of a “designer logo”, to be featured on any piece of clothing.
Being somewhat of an inventor, he also gained additional fame by patenting the first ever tennis racket, constructed of tubular steel. This was done in 1963. Tennis star, Jimmy Connors, was among the first of many players to use this innovative piece of equipment. Prior to that time, tennis rackets were constructed predominantly of wood.
In 1997, in an autobiography written by fellow player and longtime tennis promoter, Jack Kramer, Rene was listed among his top 21 greatest tennis players, of all time.
Lacoste was married, to French born golf champion, Simone Thion de la Chaume. They had one daughter and three sons. He died in France, at the age of 92. His legacy of the crocodile lives on!