Three French (S)heroes:  Yannick Noah/Amelie Mauresmo/Suzanne Lenglen

Miscegenation. I first read that word in a Faulkner novel. Métisse (mixed race). I first heard that word in one of Noah’s hit songs.* Half man whispered in the women’s locker room after Mauresmo came out as a lesbian. A mere decade later, a muscular body such as hers was accepted by everyone, desired by many. Truth was she played like a male ballet dancer: a Stefan Edberg, a Rudolf Nureyev, a Suzanne Lenglen, the last French woman to win Wimbledon in 1925 before Mauresmo won it in 2006. Only then could Mauresmo jokingly confess: “I don’t want anyone to talk about my nerves anymore,” the nerves that too often wreaked havoc with her beautiful free-flowing all-court game. Maybe she could have learned from Suzanne Lenglen, the ballerina goddess from the flapper 1920s who sipped brandy on changeovers to calm her nerves. Maybe a lesson from Yannick Noah, who admitted to toking up before matches. What’s your biggest weapon, Yannick? My hair, my dreadlocks. Noah’s tennis seemed carefree, reggae, creative: a spontaneous all-court game with acrobatic play at the net. When he became the only French citizen to win the French Open in the open era, he sparked the biggest party in France since the French Revolution. Three French (S)heroes head into a bar:  Androgyne, flapper, two-spirit, three-spirit, four-spirit, five . . .  Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our mind. 

*Discovered by Arthur Ashe in the Cameroon, Noah became a pop singer with many top hits after retiring from playing tennis. 

Artist Bio: Tom Humberstone is an award-winning comic artist and illustrator based in Edinburgh. His debut graphic novel – Suzanne: The Jazz Age Goddess of Tennis – was published by Avery Hill in September 2022. He writes and draws non-fiction comics for the Ignatz award-winning The Nib, as well as the New StatesmanVoxBuzzfeed and others. He is the editor and publisher of the critically acclaimed UK comics anthology Solipsistic Pop and co-editor of Over The Line: An Introduction to Poetry Comics. You can learn more about Tom Humberstone and his work on his website.

This writing first appeared in Another Chicago Magazine.

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