Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Sunday 19 June 2011

The Jewish Queen of Wimbledon

It being near the start of that glorious time of the year, Wimbledon Fortnight, I thought I'd briefly recall the period - not that I have firsthand memories of it, you understand! - when a Jewish girl from France was the queen of the courts at the All England Tennis Club and the toast of the stands.

With the dominance of the Williams Sisters on the famous grass courts of  the All England Tennis Club it's hard to appreciate that there was a time when the game of tennis was as white as the players' outfits.

The first black player to make her mark on the championships was the great Althea Gibson, from the USA, who in 1956 won the doubles crown with Britain's Angela Buxton.  Early in her tennis career Angela, who's Jewish, encountered antisemitic prejudice in some established tennis circles.  However, being Jewish didn't impede Suzanne Lenglen from becoming the darling of the sport - how well-known her Jewishness was I'm unable to say.

Suzanne Lenglen (1899-1938), the daughter of a businessman in Compiègne, a city north of Paris, was encouraged to take up the sport in childhood to build up her strength, and won her first tournament in 1915.  Her earliest appearance at Wimbledon was in 1919.  It was the first time she'd played on grass, but she progressed to the final,where, watched by  8000 spectators including King George V and Queen Mary, she defeated seven-times winner Dorothea Lambert Chambers of the UK.  The match, which went to 44 games, was the longest in tennis history up the that time.

In contrast to her opponent, who like other female players of the time, wore garments with long sleeves and ankle-length skirts, Suzanne was clad in sleeveless outfits and  billowing calf-length skirts.  She moved around court with the agility of a gazelle, both feet frequently leaving the ground.

Here's her Wimbledon record:

Singles Champion: 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1925.

Doubles Champion: 1919, 1920. 1921, 1922, 1923, 1925.

Mixed Doubles Champion: 1920, 1922, 1925.

She's still a legend among all who, like me, avidly follow tennis.  I believe her final appearance at Wimbledon was rather unfortunate, when having inadvertently been an hour late for the beginning of a match, she was booed by spectators for the perceived slight to Queen Mary, and left the court soon afterwards.

Suzanne Lenglen's style - of dress and of play - is seen in this video of 1926 when she faced the American champion Helen Wills [Moody]:

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