There is absolute no denying that Rene Lacoste was a style icon. His flare and precision for the way he looked both on and off the court was pure French Class. Even in his manner and decorum Rene was the French tennis style icon who understood the importance when it came to his public image. He was a businessman and he knew how to capitalize on his success both on and off the tennis court. He lived the image he played the image and looked after every opportunity he could.┬áHe was nicknamed “the Crocodile” by fans because of his tenacity on the court; he is also known worldwide as the creator of the Lacoste tennis shirt, which he introduced in 1929.

Rene Lacoste Created The First Tennis Ball Machine

Lacoste’s mechanical mind never really lagged behind his athletic pursuits. A tenacious perfectionist, he had once been criticized by a coach for overtraining. His tendency to wear out practice partners proved so frustrating that Lacoste created the first the world’s tennis ball machine, a hand-cranked device he called “lance-balle.” Later, Lacoste created the game’s first metal tennis racket.

His inventive mind worked in areas outside of tennis, too. For the game of golf he developed a new polyurethane driver, which helped the sport transition to composite material-based clubs. Between the mid-1960s and late 1980s Lacoste filed 20 new patents.

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Lacoste Went Against Tradition For On-court Fashion

But it was a clothing line that bore his name that proved to be Lacoste’s greatest post-game success. As a player, Lacoste went against traditional on-court fashion, opting to compete in short-sleeved knit shirts rather than dress shirts. By 1950, Lacoste’s shirts, with its signature crocodile emblem on the left breast, entered the U.S. market. Also playing with a beret was so super slick.

It was in the 1980s that demand exploded as the Lacoste name and symbol became synonymous with high status. In 1982, sales peaked at $450 million.

Rene Lacoste battled health issues. He suffered from prostate cancer and in early October 1996, had surgery on a broken leg. He died in his sleep from heart failure just four days after the procedure, on October 14, 1996, in St. Jean-de-Luz, France.

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