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The Babolat story begins with a family business and its first venture into the world of sport in 1875, when tennis and badminton were still in their infancy. The Lyon-based brand owed its early success and expertise to a raw material - natural gut - from which the first racquet strings were made. It subsequently became the leader in racquet-sports equipment - frames, strings, shoes, clothes, balls, grips, accessories, and bags - and technical equipment for racquet preparation professionals. Building on its tradition of innovation in support of players and the game, Babolat rose up the rankings as the choice of champions playing at the world’s most prestigious badminton, tennis and padel competitions.
A specialist in processing natural gut for sausages, surgical thread, harmonic music strings, and archery, Babolat & Monnier, under the direction of Pierre Babolat, invents the first natural gut strings for racquets, one year after Walter Clopton Wingfield devised the rules of lawn tennis, and not long after producing its first badminton strings.
Babolat thus becomes the first company to specialise in racquet games, and embarks on its adventure in the world of sport.
After using sheep and then cow gut, Babolat begins to work on a sustainable alternative to meet the demand for finer strings and higher tension from the first tennis champions. After taking over the business from his father, Albert creates the benchmark VS in 1925. A natural, revolutionary string, it is made famous by the French tennis “Musketeers” (Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, René Lacoste and Henri Cochet) and Suzanne Lenglen. Almost a century later, the VS remains a global benchmark in the world of racquet sports, with more than 100 Grand Slam tournaments won by champions equipped with Babolat VS strings.
By now, tennis has grown into a truly global phenomenon. Aware of the importance of being present wherever tennis is played, Paul Babolat builds an international retail network for his products. An instant hit, Babolat quickly becomes a household name among players across the globe, including in Argentina, Germany, Italy, United States, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Australia, and Japan.
A key player in the growth of tennis, Paul Babolat expands Babolat’s range while continuing to design innovative products better adapted and more accessible to players. One of his inventions is Elascord - the brand’s first synthetic (nylon) string.
The 1960s mark a turning point in the history of Babolat, which launches a complete range of accessories for racquet frames including leather and synthetic handle grips, and Babol coating to protect gut strings. It is such a success a new verb enters the sporting lexicon: “to Babolise". Wooden racquets now need to be kept in a press after gut strings are “babolised”.
Björn Borg, with 100 victories under his belt including 11 Grand Slam tournaments with the VS string, becomes a tennis rockstar for a generation of players, along with Arthur Ashe, Martina Navratilova, Jimmy Connors, and John Newcombe. Paul Babolat even presents the Swedish champion with a well-deserved golden VS. Babolat also changes the brand signature on its strings, adding a double line to the bottom of the stringed area so players always know it is equipped with Babolat strings, whatever the frame brand.