Frenchman Jean René Lacoste was a tennis star with over seven Grand Slam titles in the 20s and early 30s and was the world number one player in both 1926 and 1927. Nicknamed “the Crocodile” for his tenacity on the court, a stylized version of the creature later became the iconic logo of the Lacoste polo-style tennis shirt that he introduced in 1929.
In 1963, Lacoste created a whole new world of racket technology when he patented the first tubular steel tennis racket. It didn’t warp, was lightweight and had less wind resistance. Lacoste’s innovative idea of passing racket strings around metal wires looped to the frame finally solved previous problems with metal rackets— most notably the incompatibility of tensioned strings with the sharp metal edges of holes drilled in the tubing.
The Lacoste design was marketed in Europe, and in the USA as the Wilson T-2000. It was famously used by American tennis great Jimmy Connors through his major tournaments and, as late as 1987—nearly a quarter century after its initial patent was granted. The T-2000 is arguably the most popular tennis racket in history.
The recognized success of metal rackets in the early 70s encouraged competitors to experiment with other non-traditional materials, eventually leading the way to today’s carbon composites. These developments have in turn led to a wider variety of choices now in the special features which affect playing characteristics.