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Three Musketeers

King George V opened the Church Road Complex of Wimbledon on 26 June 1922. With the new ground came the three musketeers from France, Cochet, Borotra and Lacoste who dominated the Wimbledon championships during the 'twenties. The fourth Frenchman, Brugnon who was older and had already played at the old ground was a doubles specialist.
Borotra, the 'bounding Basque' was the favourite at Wimbledon with his high energy and acrobatic style of play. Cochet was the improviser and Lacoste the most methodical of the three. He had taken up Tennis because of ill health and primarily played a baseline game, not unlike Bjorn Borg. We know him better today because of the brand names of Crocodile and Lacoste sportswear that he created.

Borotra won the singles titles in 1924 and 1926. Lacoste won in 1925 and 1928 (giving up Tennis immediately after due to bad health) and Cochet won in 1927 and 1929. In fact, five of the finals between 1924 and 1929 were all French affairs. American Howard Kinsey briefly interrupted the French domination during this period in 1926 when he met Borotra in the final. The ladies' singles was of course the property of Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen till she made her exit in a huff during the 1926 Wimbledon championships.

However, before the musketeers could take a stranglehold on the championships, Gerald Patterson won the singles title in 1922 beating Randolph Lycett to win his second trophy in three years. In 1923, in the absence of his nemesis 'Big Bill' Tilden, American 'Little Bill' Johnston - who had lost to the former in five US Open finals - won the Wimbledon singles beating Frank Hunter in the final.

Wimbledon celebrated its jubilee in its 49th year in 1926, probably through somebody's oversight, but the year was memorable for the appearance of King George VI as a doubles player. He played with Wing Commander Louis Greig as his partner and lost to veterans Gore and Barrett in straight sets.

Kitty Godfree (nee Mckane) took advantage of Lenglen's absence in 1924 as well as in 1926 to win the ladies' singles titles. In 1924 she defeated American Helen Wills, little realizing that Ms Wills would avenge that defeat by winning all eight championships she would enter between 1927 and 1938. Another American who had lived in England because of Tennis, Elizabeth Ryan was continuing her dominance in the doubles and mixed doubles and by 1934 she would win 19 titles, none of them in the singles.

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