Fox's 20th Century: Tennis - 1915-20: Suzanne Lenglen

FIRST SOME facts. In major championship finals she conceded an average of only 1.3 games per set, and 42 per cent of those she won 6- 0.Between 1919 and 1926 she suffered just one singles defeat, and then only because she was ill. On five occasions she won a tournament withoutlosing a game. Yet she changed tennis more because of her style and appearance than her near invincibility.

FIRST SOME facts. In major championship finals she conceded an average of only 1.3 games per set, and 42 per cent of those she won 6- 0.Between 1919 and 1926 she suffered just one singles defeat, and then only because she was ill. On five occasions she won a tournament withoutlosing a game. Yet she changed tennis more because of her style and appearance than her near invincibility.

Probably no match in the history of the game was as revolutionary as the meeting at Wimbledon in 1919 of this 20-year-old Frenchwoman and MrsLambert Chambers, of England, who had dominated before the First World War. Mrs Chambers wore what she considered appropriate: a gored skirtonly a few inches off the ground and shirt buttoned at the wrist. Freedom of movement came second to etiquette.

Mlle Lenglen appeared in a one-piece dress with sleeves daringly cut below the elbow. But more sensationally, her hemline was just beneath the knee.Some women spectators muttered "disgusting". But they were to be entranced by a match that heralded a new approach to tennis as well as fashion.

Whereas the pre-war style of play had been stately, Lenglen introduced balletic movement. In a thrilling final, she darted about the court, apparentlywithout a flaw in her play. Yet Chambers was a stern and experienced opponent. Lenglen eventually won 10-8 4-6 9-7.

The victory marked the beginning of the Lenglen era in which she confirmed that her ball control was near impeccable, her volleying powerful andher athleticism something never previously seen. At Wimbledon in 1925 she lost only five games in five rounds, and her only championship defeatwas by Molla Mallory when, in 1921, she had become ill on the way to the United States from Europe. She dominated the game until 1926.

Her temperament had always been volatile, culminating in an hysterical withdrawal from Wimbledon when she misunderstood the time of the startand kept Queen Mary and the crowds waiting. On entering the court she received an unfriendly reception and was so unnerved that she burst intotears and refused to play.

She turned professional that year, which was regrettable since she met another great player, the hard-hitting American Helen Wills Moody only once.That match, in Cannes, also in 1926, saw Lenglen win 6-3 8-6. Yet many tennis fans insisted that Wills Moody was the greater of the two and had notreached her peak. Lenglen died in 1938.

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Sport
The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
football Polish side was ejected from Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Algo-Developer (BDD/TDD, ASP.NET, JavaScript, RX)

£45000 - £69999 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Algo-Develo...

Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, Apache Mahout, Python,R,AI)

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

£50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone