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Today is the birthday of Rene Lacoste, the man who gave the world the original preppy polo shirt. And since Wimbledon is also currently underway, I thought it the perfect excuse for a tennis-themed image gallery.

Above is a vintage tennis sweater and necktie from Newton Street Vintage; below, another vintage specimen:

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Pete’s looks rather dingy in comparison:

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Rand’s looks much better:

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J. Press York Street, current season:

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On the left is Bobby Riggs (I just watched “When Billie Beat Bobby,” which was kind of fun) in 1947 with girls from Smith College:

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They really did wear those sweaters everywhere, even in Kalamazoo:

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Tennis sweaters presumably died out for style reasons. They look elitist and old fashioned, though are just as functional as a Nike-emblazoned warmup jacket. Trousers and canvas shoes, however, are just too impractical for the modern game. This is from Wimbledon’s website yesterday:

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Same goes for wooden rackets:

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They may not perform like modern ones (my racket is so ugly I finally grew sick of it and am shopping for something less visually offensive), but they sure photograph better:

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This probably isn’t meant to be practical:

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When I went to Cambridge to interview Charlie Davidson, he took me to lunch with Bud Collins, the tennis commentator known for his go-to-hell pants (which Charlie first turned him on to). Here he is in 1964 before they became his trademark:

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As we draw to a close, here’s the birthday boy himself. Lacoste died in 1996 at the age of 92:

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He had one daughter. Some crocodiles can lay up to 95 eggs:

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The end. — c C m

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