Lenglen, Suzanne

BORN 24 May 1899, Compiègne, Oise - DIED 4 Jul 1938, Paris
BIRTH NAME Lengland, Sizanne Rachel Flore
CAUSE OF DEATH pernicious anemia
GRAVE LOCATION St.-Ouen, Seine-Saint-Denis: Cimetière Parisien: Ancien Cimetière (division 6 )

Suzanne Lenglen suffered from asthma and other health problems during her youth. Her father decided in 1910 that she should play tennis to improve her health by playing tennis. She enjoyed at the game and soon it became clear that she was very good at it. In 1914 she reached the final of the French Championship at the age of fourteen. In St. Cloud she won the World Hard Court Championship in that same year.

The First World War put an end to the European tennis tournaments during the next years. But in 1919 she appeared at Wimbledon and she won the tournament, beating seven time winner Dorothea Douglass Chambers in the final. Her bare forearms and the sipping of some brandy between the sets shocked the British public.

In 1920 she won Olympic gold in Antwerp and a long series of victories began. She won Wimbledon in 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923 and 1925. In 1924 she withdrew because of health problems. At the French Open she was victorious from 1920 to 1926. In 1926 she played Helen Wills in Cannes. Wills had won the US Open twice, but she lost the match against Lenglen.

In 1926 she fainted after she had realized that she had kept Queen Mary waiting in the Royal Box for her appearance. There had been a misunderstanding about the time she was to appear on the court. She withdrew from the tournament and would never return to Wimbledon. All these years she decided to become a professional player. The organiser of Wimbledon, All England Club was so angry that her membership was revoked. But Lenglan rightfully stated that she had worked hard for free for a very long time and had helped to make tennis big. She felt fully entitled to make some money after all these years.

She toured the USA in a series of matches against former champion Mary K. Browne, who was 35 at the time. Lenglan won 38 to 0, but the tour exhausted her completely. She decided to withdraw from from tennis as an active player and started a tennis school in Paris together with her lover Jean Tillier. She also wrote books on tennis.

In June 1938 it became public that she diagnosed with leukemia. Three weeks later she became blind and on 4 Jul 1938 she died of pernicious anemia.


The grave of Suzanne Lenglen at the St. Ouen cemetery, Seine-St.-Denis.
Picture by Androom (23 Aug 2001)


Suzanne Lenglen - Wikipedia

Lenormand, Marie

Published: 23 Oct 2009
Last update: 25 Apr 2022