It was September 1926, and an unforgettable piece of history was about to be made at the U.S. Open. French team player René Lacoste was the No. 1 player in the world, sure to command attention as he stepped onto the grass court of the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, N.Y. But while Lacoste would win in mixed doubles that year, it was another play that would have the most lasting impact: When the 22-year-old Lacoste appeared at the service line, he was wearing a polo shirt.
That was a big deal. Until this time, players wore “tennis whites”—slacks and long-sleeve shirts (with neckties, no less). But Lacoste insisted on being stylish as well as comfortable. Whatever fuss ensued was over before long. “Soon,” Lacoste would later remember, “everybody was wearing them.”