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Member of the legendary Four Musketeers of French tennis, Renee Lacoste also invented the metal tennis racket and was founder of the Lacoste line of sportswear.
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But it was a clothing line that bore his name that proved to be Lacoste's greatest post-game success. As a player, Lacoste went against traditional on-court fashion, opting to compete in short-sleeved knit shirts rather than dress shirts. Sensing a market for this look, Lacoste formed a small company soon after leaving the game to manufacture the apparel. By 1950, Lacoste's shirts, with its signature crocodile emblem on the left breast,
entered the U.S. market.
While sales steadily climbed for Lacoste, it wasn't until the 1980s that demand exploded as the Lacoste name and symbol became synonymous with high status. In 1982, sales peaked at $450 million.
Over the last several years of his life, Rene Lacoste battled health issues. He suffered from prostate cancer and in early October 1996, had surgery on a broken leg. He died in his sleep from heart failure just four days after the procedure, on October 14, 1996, in St. Jean-de-Luz, France.
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