Rene was born in Paris on July 2, 1904 in the family of the industrialist Jean Lacoste, the owner of a network of factories producing cars “Spanish-Suiza” (La Нispano-Suiza Automobiles). Being not quite a healthy child – he was pestering chronic bronchitis, Rene became interested in tennis.
One day, in 1910, they invited the French journalist Pierre Albarran, a major tennis authority, to the Club de sport, located on Saussure Street in Paris, and showed a thin, pale boy. He held the racket in the middle of the handle, ran around the court like a hare, and hit the balls with the accuracy of a metronome. The guy made an impression on the “examination committee.” Albarran recalls that everyone was of the same opinion: this young man had a good future, but no one had the idea that at 21, Lacoste would be the first racket of the world.
What an amazing path he has come! What will and perseverance this young man showed in exhausting training, to whom his father recommended leaving the sport at the age of fifteen, believing that his son is completely lacking in abilities! At twenty, Lacoste became a real athlete, able to train for three hours in the morning, and fight for another three hours in the afternoon (at that time it was unusual), reminding with his game a perfectly adjusted, non-interruption mechanism.
Journalists nicknamed him “Crocodile” for his characteristic expression on his face and composure. The witty Rene did not consider it necessary to be offended, but accepted him as a talisman. The image of a small green crocodile became the mark of his tennis props. After finishing his sports career, Lacoste organized a well-known clothing company, which is decorated with an embroidered crocodile.
It should be noted that in the field of preparation for competitions, Rene crossed the boundaries of the possible. He practiced exercises to develop muscle strength, ran and worked with a skipping rope to make the leg muscles elastic, played field hockey to develop speed and regulate breathing, took long walks or played golf to calm the nervous system.
For hours, Lacoste could watch the game of his rivals fixing in his diary the strengths and weaknesses of the rivals. In it, he wrote down a carefully prepared plan for the upcoming meeting (one American journalist offered him quite a lot of money for this diary). And he spent even more time with a racket in his hand, correcting his mistakes, perfecting blows. The wall of his house annually required repair, for he thoroughly spoiled it with many hours of shock. After he was the first to use a tennis cannon in his training, which he himself designed.
As soon as Rene noticed the most insignificant errors in himself, he literally began to torment his comrades, forcing them to play, and already in the game he carefully worked out unsuccessful blows.
At home, Lacoste quite often imitated movements in front of a mirror. At one time, such a habit almost played a trick on him when he began to correct the pitch. Afraid of catching a hanging chandelier, he bent his right arm too much and began to serve worse and worse on the court. Fortunately, he noticed his mistake in the photo, the chandelier, of course, was smashed to smithereens, but the necessary movement was detected when serving … All this sounds like a joke, but the captain of the French team still tried to always put Lacoste in a room without a chandelier.
Giving tennis all his free time, subjecting him to all his will, Rene Lacoste managed to become an uninterrupted “mechanism” directing the ball to the desired point. Confidence in the blows was unthinkable. He was one of the few players in the world who could almost always direct the ball exactly to the place he wanted to. He saw in front of him only the ball and the court and did not think about anything else except the match.
In 1925, Lacoste first won the title of champion of France on indoor courts, and then on open, not losing a single set during the tournament and defeating Borotra in the final with a score of 7: 5, 6: 1,6: 4. He confirmed the pattern of success a month later in Wimbledon, having again won in the final of Jean Borotra in four games. The following year, Rene defeats Bill Tilden (6: 4; 4: 6; 5: 7; 6: 3; 11: 9) for the first time in the Davis Cup games, and then, after winning the American Open, joins the ranks of the best players in the world. However, after 1928, his health condition forced him to gradually move away from participation in major tournaments.
Lacoste’s game was impressive. He did not shock the opponent with the power of his blows, but as though gradually strangling him. It was a kind of performance. Lacoste introduced the ball into the game with a not very strong, but well-aimed serve to the very lateral line, thereby knocking an opponent out of the court from the first hit. The next ball was sent to the opposite corner. And the endless “walk” began. After several games, the opponent lost his breath, and after two sets he no longer felt his legs and was completely exhausted. To avoid such a press that was pressing all the time, it was necessary to respond with unmistakable blows. Easy to say!