The most stylish tennis stars through the ages

28th July 1936: Fred Perry of Great Britain in action against Jack Crawford of Australia during their Davis Cup match at Wimbledon. Britain beat Australia 3-2. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Tennis is one of the most sophisticated sports there is. No foul mouths, no smashing people to the ground. It’s a beautiful, skilful game that requires elegance in all forms, from the way it’s played to the clothes worn on the court.

René Lacoste

One of the ‘Four Musketeers’ who dominated French tennis in the 1920’s and ‘30s, René Lacoste earned the nickname ‘The Crocodile’  of his unyielding playing style. He earned no fewer than 7 Grand Slam titles in his time, developing a highly methodical approach that earned him a second nickname: ‘The Tennis Machine’. When he went on to found his eponymous brand in 1933, Lacoste took his spirit animal as the logo – one that is recognised the world over today. Playing at a time prior to the adoption of shorts, Lacoste was most at home in his wide-legged tennis trousers, peaked cap and a v-necked jumper.

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Image: Getty

Fred Perry

The quintessential English tennis champion, Perry was the first (and only British) player to win a ‘Career Grand Slam’, winning all four singles titles in 1935. He would go on to win 8 Grand Slams and two Pro Slam titles during his career, winning three consecutive Wimbledon championships between 1934 and 1936. Indeed, the last of these remained the last time a British player has won Wimbledon until Andy Murray took the trophy in 2013. Like Lacoste, Perry would go on to found an eponymous clothing brand, launching his first tennis shirt at Wimbledon in 1952. Over 60 years later, his iconic polos remain a British mainstay.

28th July 1936: Fred Perry of Great Britain in action against Jack Crawford of Australia during their Davis Cup match at Wimbledon. Britain beat Australia 3-2. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Image: Getty

Rod Laver

Regarded as one of the best players the sport has ever seen, Laver racked up over 200 singles wins during his career, a record that remains unbeaten to this day. Described by some as being near technically faultless, Laver was ranked as the world No. 1 for seven consecutive years, winning at least 10 titles in each – a testament to his ability to excel on all surfaces and in all conditions. As for his style, Laver inspired an Adidas tennis shoe by the same name, which enjoys a following to this day.

Rod-Laver

Image: AP

Björn Borg

A truly gifted player, Björn Borg was beating Sweden’s best under 18 players while he was still at the tender age of 13. This proved a rather unequivocal sign of things to come – Borg would snag 11 Grand Slam titles during his career, 5 of which were consecutive wins at Wimbledon. Perhaps one of the few who could pull off the long-hair-and-sweat-band combination, Borg also forged a style of his own, pairing tight striped polo shirts with his trademark short-shorts.

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Image: AP

Further Reading