French Musketeers

CHAMPIONING THE TRUTH

Phew! After the monumental flopping of a majority of the Spanish players I had talked up in my pre-Aussie Open blog what a relief it was to see Sam Querrey and John Isner performing so well at Memphis last week following on from my next big American blog.

My thinking has been on great champions once more this week and how they become what they are.

One topic receiving a lot of discussion in my workplace this week is baby names. We were talking about heroes and the naming of your child after them. For example: ITV1’s superb new drama “Married, Single, Other” saw Ralph Little playing a character named ‘Clint’ as his father “loved spaghetti westerns” and I attended university with a girl whose father loved Portsmouth FC so much that he gave his daughter the middle name Pompey (the club’s nickname).

But if your favourite pastime is with a racket and ball what is the best way to ensure your child has what it takes to be the next Federer? Well, name him Roger of course. Or perhaps your daughter a Serena or a Justine? Hmmmmm.

If you read my column regularly (hopefully somebody does) you will know I have a not-so-secret penchant for random facts and trivia. So, looking down the annals of singles play, let us look at the most successful names in tennis history.

By painstakingly counting all the names etched on to Grand Slam singles trophies I have compiled a list of names you should think about for your child if the whole name game does work. See if you can guess what they are before reading on.

Personally, I thought that William or Bill would be most popular after the exploits of Tilden and Johnston etc. But it appears that the name John has appeared on more Grand Slam singles titles than any other thanks in no small part to its Spanish and French variants.

Jean Borotra was one of the four French musketeers playing in the 1920s and 30s and his haul of 1 Aussie Open, 2 French Opens and 2 Wimbledons has been added to over the years by the likes of John McEnroe, Juan Carlos Ferrero and John Newcombe to amass a total of 35 titles.

William/Bill came in second with 26 while Jimmy Connors and the lesser-known Aussie James Anderson among others have helped the James family amass 19 Grand Slam singles titles apiece.

Roger Federer is the only male player to get his name in the list by himself.

In terms of surnames it boils down to the players who have amassed the most titles themselves. So, ladies, better be on the lookout for a Federer or Sampras to marry.

The female names become slightly more interesting. Only 77 different Christian names have been etched on to the four Grand Slam trophies over the course of their history.

Of these, Margaret is the most popular. If you check the female surnames then this is largely down to the 22 Slams picked up by the Aussie Margaret Court. Yet the 2 French Opens, 3 US Opens and Wimbledon title lifted by American Margaret Osborne DuPont also helped greatly.

Helen Wills Moody and Helen Jacobs combined Team America style to help their name towards its total of 27 titles while Hingis and Navratilova made a superb doubles partnership for their moniker, Navratilova amassing 18 of their 23 Slams.

The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, could not combine to overhaul the alpha females Steffi Graff or Margaret Court in the battle of the surnames while anybody with the surnames Wills, Moody, Connolly or Brinker will also be hopeful, the latter two courtesy of early dominatrix “Little Mo.”

Of course training, luck, sporting ability etc. etc. are more important in the making of a star but with so many people willing to name their child after their heroes in the modern era we can have a little fun here.

Besides, if you love tennis enough to name your child after your favourite player, who’s to say you aren’t as obsessed with the sport and driven enough to be the next Richard Williams?

Most Popular Male Names:Most Popular Male Surnames:Most Popular Female Names:Most Popular Female Surnames:
John/Jean/Juan/Johan/Jan – 35Federer – 16Margaret/Marguerite – 34Court – 22

Or

Graf – 22

William/Bill – 26Sampras – 14Helene/Helen – 27Williams – 19

Or

Wills Moody – 19

Andre/Andres/Andy-17Emerson – 12Martina – 23Navratilova – 18

Or

Evert – 18

James/Jim/Jimmy – 16
Or
Roger – 16
Laver – 11

Or

Borg – 11

Steffi – 22Lenglen – 12

Or

King – 12

Pete/Petr – 15Doherty – 10Joan/Jean/Billie Jean/Jana – 20

Or

Chris/Christine – 20

Connolly Brinker – 9

Borotra: The Least-Known Musketeer

Throughout the French Open fortnight, hardly an hour passes with mention of the famed four French Musketeers. Their victory over Bill Tilden and the United States in the 1927 Davis Cup Challenge Round – that brought the Davis Cup to France for the first time – necessitated the construction of Roland Garros stadium for the 1928 Davis Cup Challenge Round and eventually for the French Championships. Their success and domination of tennis in the late 1920s and early 1930s was a major reason why the French Championships achieved its status as one of the four major championships in tennis – the national championships of the first four nations to win the Davis Cup – the U.S., Britain (Wimbledon), Australia and France – were recognized as “the majors.” The French Open men’s singles trophy is also called the “Coupe de Mosquetaires” and the area between Court Chatrier and Court No. 1 is called the “Place des Mosquetaires” with statues of all four champions. Many people are quite aware of Rene Lacoste, the most famous of the Musketeers due to his major titles and his well-known Lacoste sports brand, Henri Cochet and Jean Borotra are the next most famous of the “Fab Four” for their singles victories in majors. But what of Jacques Brugnon – the least known of the four? Bud Collins, in his upcoming book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS (order for 39 percent off by clicking here), profiles “Toto” Brugnon, the oldest of the four great champions.

Jacques “Toto” Brugnon was the elder of France’s celebrated Four Musketeers who won the Davis Cup in 1927 from the U.S., and kept it six years. He preceded the other three – Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet, René Lacoste – as an internationalist, playing first on the Cup team in 1921. A master at doubles, he won Wimbledon four times, 1926 and 1928 with Cochet and 1932 and 1933 with Borotra, and appeared in three other finals. He won the French five times, three with Cochet, two with Borotra, and the Australian with Borotra, plus two French mixed for a dozen major titles.

Although doubles expertise overshadowed his singles, the small (5-foot-6, 139 pounds), neatly mustachioed and courtly, Toto had many fine moments alone. He was ranked world Nos. 10 and 9 in 1926 and 1927, golden years for the French: They were 40 percent of the Top 10, his fellow Musketeers occupying places in the first four, Lacoste at No. 1. In his greatest singles moment, his clever volleying took him to the Wimbledon semis of 1926 and five times a match point away from joining Borotra in the championship round. American Bob Kinsey got away from him, though, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 9-7, slipping from 4-5, 15-40, and 5-6,15-40 and ad out in the last set. Wallis Myers, the connoisseur, wrote: “Brugnon is a player of rare stroke variety and delicacy of touch.” He was a quarterfinalist in 1927, and stands fourth among all male Wimbledonians in wins with 129: 37-19 in singles, 69-16 in doubles, 23-16 in mixed.

His Davis Cup career ran 11 years, and he had a hand in four of the Cup triumphs as a right-handed left-court player. For a time, he was a teaching professional in California. He was born May 11, 1895, in Paris, and died there March 20, 1978.

MAJOR TITLES (12) — Australian doubles, 1928; French doubles, 1927-28, 30, 32, 34; Wimbledon doubles, 1926, 28, 32-33; French mixed, 1925-26. DAVIS CUP — 1921, 23-24-25-26-27,30-31-32-33-34, 4-2 singles, 22-9 doubles. SINGLES RECORD IN THE MAJORS — Australian (1-1), French (21-13), Wimbledon (37-19), U.S. (12-11).