Updated: Aug 17
02 August, 2020. It was June 5, 1983. The French Open Final at Stade Roland Garros, Paris. Yannick Noah serving the match ball against the Swedish superstar Mats Wilander. Noah`s racket: Le Coq Sportif TCO. Winning the point, and falling on his knees made him the first compatriot after 1946 to
win the Musketeers´ trophy. His great victory made him the last ever player to win any Grand Slam tournament with a wooden racket.
Who was Yannick Noah, who is Yannick Noah?
Even 37 years after his title, Noah is still worshiped in the "Grande Nation" and has been voted the most popular Frenchman several times. It`s not surprising at all, hardly anyone before or after him played tennis with such an ease. Hardly anyone spread as much fun as the Frenchman. You can hardly find pictures of Noah on which you don´t see him with a smile on his face.
The son of a former Cameroonian soccer professional and a French teacher didn't like the daily routine on the tennis tour. Noah himself said "As a player, you always have to show strength, you
can't admit weaknesses. It's hard to be human on the pitch. The daily routine is not for me. That bores me. It´s annoying.” So, right after his tennis career ending in 1991, he followed doing what he could do at a certain extend only. And, as a singer, he was almost more successful. He reached number 1 on the French charts and received a gold record. Noah said:
"I played more concerts than tennis matches. An artist can show weaknesses and feelings. I love that and I've missed it during my professional tennis career. Playing a final is a lot of stress. The enthusiasm, the redemption comes just before and after the last point. So maybe the last 30 seconds of a match. A concert in front of 80,000 people is pleasure from the first to the last moment."
Nevertheless, Noah never left the tennis scene. In 2017, he led France's Davis Cup team to the title as the team boss. He was also active in football. As a consultant for Cameroon's national team and Paris St. Germain.
Le Coq Sportif
Thus, his positive personality let him open a lot of doors. And this made him the flagship athlete of the French producer of athletic shoes, active-wear, and sporting accessories Le Coq Sportif. Let´s have a look at the company history before having a close look at the very last wooden racket to win a Grand Slam tournament. Between 1966 and the late 1973, Le Coq Sportif and Adidas had a close
collaboration. Le Coq Sportif provided the know-how from the experience in the textile industry. In 1974, the company was finally taken over entirely by Adidas. However, Adidas continued to use the brand. They worked with numerous tennis professionals, and so they also did with Yannick Noah.
What did Noah love by playing the racket?
Some tennis racquets are memorable, some stick in the mind for even longer. But only a few are truly iconic. The Le Coq Sportif TCO was different to most wooden rackets, though, with a bigger head size much more akin to the racquets used by players today. Noah switched to it in 1982 and loved the bigger head size. He also liked the look of the racquet, which was distinguished by its third branch, an extra line of wood in the throat. Le Coq Sportif said the third branch added stability and moved the sweet spot higher. It was their trademark.
Le Coq Sportif TCO racket at The Berlin Tennis Gallery
The illustration at the article heading shows Andreas Fixemer holding 3 sticks from The BTG directly from the production line at that time. 10 years of contemporary history show the obvious change in the raw materials used - An aluminium frame from the mid 70th, Noah`s Concept 3 Oversize from 1983, and the Yannick Noah Ceramic/Graphite made in 1985.
The illustrated TCO racket has been produced exactly 12 days after Noah`s unforgettable victory on June 17, 1983. It has still the original production slip and has been donated to The BTG by Otto Dobrounig, the former head of development of Adidas and Le Coq Sportif. With Noah remaining the only French man to win any of the four Grand Slam events in the Open era, and with him being the last ever player to win a Grand Slam tournament playing with a wooden racket. This merely adds to the iconic status of Le Coq Sportif TCO.
Find the full video documentation on https://youtu.be/pwkTSdr3CJA
Sources of photos:
Le Coq Sportif
Mail to the editor