View Full Version : Lenglen vs Wills reply to boredone

06-24-2009, 01:28 PM
Starting new thread so as not to derail.

Originally Posted by BTURNER View Post
I don't quite buy that. Wills played three slams. No reason Lenglen could not have played over here more. Lenglen beat the folks in Europe and the folks in England and the Americans that traveled to her except one year. We all know that the grass of the US championship played differently than Wimbledon. Wills did it here more too..
Just a question, as I may be misinterpreting your words here, but are you saying Lenglen was afraid of Wills? If you are, well Lenglen would not have played the one match against Wills that she did, which she played against the wishes of her father and won in straight sets. Lenglen eventually went pro the following year because she wanted to make money and was sick of paying entry fees and earning other people money for her talent, so she put her talent into action to make money playing exhibitions. After that Fiasco of a mess at the US Open (which from what I have read was completely mishandled by the officials) and the complete disrespect shown her by the american fans in her mind she probably felt to disrespected to go back, sort of like the Williams and Indian Wells. I am not saying I agree, but we cannot change others minds for them, and like the williams say...why go and support a tournament they feel is against them. Again I am not saying I agree...and if I am misinterpreting you I fully apologize.

You are misinterpreting me but maybe not not another previous poster. I am not suggesting she was afraid of Wills. The reasons she stayed away from America's shores are probably many dimensional and her answer is as good as any. It just is not of much interest to me why. Lenglen did not compete in America and Wills not only competed she dominated, just as she dominated in Europe or England. That is one reason I put Wills ahead of Lenglen in GOAT ranking. What I don't buy, is the notion she is better that Wills because of pundits or players testimony says so. She needed to get over here and win some tournements on this side of the pond the way Wills did. We should not hand her the accolades that Wills sweated for. .

06-24-2009, 06:22 PM
Why, precisely, is success in the United States a critical consideration in determining a player's GOAT ranking? Bill Tilden (Lenglen's contemporary) did not win any major titles in Australia and very few in France. Should this affect our assessment of his status? If not, why not?

06-24-2009, 09:18 PM
None of them went to Australia so that is mute. Tilden was a finalist at RG twice and won Rome and the World Hard Court Championships as well in Europe. He also played many of those Europeans in Europe in Davis Cup. I am suggesting that in conquering both continents and three major venues, she broadened her dominance beyond Lenglen's. Her willingness to not just meet all-comers but seek them overseas, matters.

06-24-2009, 11:45 PM
Lenglen's health was a definite issue for her from what I've read. Long boat trips didn't do wonders for her health. Also keep in mind that she died rather young (she was only 39) which only proves that her health was indeed fragile. Why would Suzanne put her health at risk to travel to the US to play here? It's just not logical.

I already said it in another thread but I do suspect that if Lenglen and Wills had developed a rivalry I do think Wills would have come out on top - she was younger and it seemed (from what I've read in the book, The Goddess and the American Girl) as if she was also more mentally tough as well even though Lenglen was pretty mentally tough herself. They would have been the Navratilova/Evert of their time though and woudn't that have been something to see?

06-25-2009, 08:39 AM
I think considering the time period we are discussing here input of players who have played against both and partnered both in doubles is very important. Some players who said Lenglen was better (Elizabeth Ryan, Kitty Godfree) were contemporaries and partners to both, new both players games, and were saying that Lenglen was better based on her game, one of them even said Lenglen owned every kind of shot. They did not mean accomplishment. Also, I want to make a point I did not make before.

Travel in these times was costly, tournaments did not pay for people to go to them all the time, (Australia did not start paying for players to go do down until the 1940's, at least according to Margaret Osborne Dupont from what I have read). And after the scandal, I highly doubt the American fans of tennis would be happy if the tournament paid for Lenglen to come over. Paying for travel back and forth as well as the entry fee may have been another factor for Lenglen, expecially in a time when many still traveled by boat which was not cheap, and her health was always a problem for her, not to mention the time it took to get over here from Europe.

Considering the fact that Lenglen Dominated many of her oversees challengers I really don't think it would have made a difference where she played them. Frankly, dominance of different venues is a modern way of evaluating greatness, and they were not players of the modern way, so using that as a criteria for judgement when talking about these two is, in my opinion, inaccurate and unfair.

06-25-2009, 09:22 AM
Excuse me -- I'm a novice on in this subject -- but curious -- what did Lenglen's and Wills-Moody's contemporaries say about Helen's progress as a player. I mean when they met -- very arguably the most hyped and talked about tennis match in the world to that point (including the men) -- it wasn't really Wills-Moody at her best right? She had not reached her peak as I understand it yet.

Did Helen become markedly better later on? Is that arguable? Or was Kitty's and others opinions based on Suzanne's and Helen's level seen from an entire career perspective?

I hear a lot of historians recently (and I've read some things) who are adamant that Lenglen was just beyond comprehension great -- she played mostly with really good male players and give them serious run for their money. From what I've heard them say. I underline -- I'm a know-nothing on this and just curious...

06-25-2009, 06:01 PM
It is interesting Lenglen's father forbid her to play Wills. Suzanne herself may not have been afriad of Wills, but her father apparently was.