Tennis

French Open's favorite 'Flapper'

Published 1041 GMT (1841 HKT) June 6, 2013
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Suzanne Lenglen revolutionized women's tennis in the 1920s, with her daring outfits and aggressive style of play. Hulton Archive/Getty Images/file
"She had that thing that we love in our public figures -- she had a sense of drama," author Larry Engelmann told CNN's Open Court. Brooke/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images/file
"When she walked out on the court, when she walked down the street after the match, there was a certain passion, drama, gloriousness, a suffering to her that seemed to indicated depths that people wanted to see in a national figure," Engelmann says. Topical Press Agency/Getty Images/file
Lenglen never played at Roland Garros, which was built after she retired in 1927, but the second show court there has since been named after her -- and the statue outside commemorates one of her most iconic action images. BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images/file
"When she was young, she studied dance -- she studied ballet and people said she played tennis like a dancer," Engelmann says. "She walked around the court between points on her tip toes. She posed a certain way when she was going to serve." Hulton Archive/Getty Images/file
"Suzanne learned tennis from the best male players," Engelmann says. "She was very competitive and she played a much more sophisticated game and she broke the limits. It was a sort of quantum leap into a more aggressive, athletic game." Kirby/Topical Press/Getty Images/file
Lenglen is pictured here with fellow French tennis star Rene Lacoste, who went on to launch his own fashion house. Topical Press Agency/Getty Images/file
"She also wore very fashionable clothing on the court -- French designers designed for her," Engelmann says. "There was more transparency to her gowns. She wore short-sleeved blouses when she played. In a period of time when light skin was highly prized -- she took glory in being out in the sun and having a tan." Keystone/Getty Images/file
She was one of the world's most famous female athletes in the 1920s, and her success inspired a character in "Le Train Bleu," a production by the Diaghilev Ballet Russe which featured costumes by Coco Chanel. Sasha/Getty Images/file
After retiring, Lenglen helped set up a tennis school near Roland Garros. She is pictured here with students in 1937, a year before her death at the age of 39. She had long suffered poor health, and was diagnosed with leukemia not long before she died. Hulton Archive/Getty Images/file
Lenglen's crown as the queen of women's tennis was taken by American Helen Wills Moody, pictured left with Hollywood actress Joan Crawford. Fox Photos/Getty Images/file
Mary Pierce was the last Frenchwoman to hold the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen for the winner of the Paris grand slam when she triumphed at Roland Garros in 2000. JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images/file