Roland Garros during War: The Oldest Living French Tennis Champion Tells All

May 27, 2015 - accent chair

It’s not mostly we get to accommodate kingship in this day and age. Certainly, it doesn’t customarily occur in Jacksonville, Fla.

Despite her age (97), and her hiker (thanks to a recently damaged hip), a word that comes to mind when encountering Raymonde Veber Jones is regal. Raymonde has lived in America for customarily underneath 7 decades now, nonetheless she’s French by birth, and something of Marie Antoinette and Josephine Bonaparte has drifted down by a years into her bearing. Her bench is a elementary easy chair, in that she sits true and unapproachable on a Apr afternoon she has selected to extend me an audience. Her sovereignty has been reduced to a integrate of bedrooms in an assisted vital formidable down a transport from a internal territory of a Mayo Clinic. But one peek and there is no doubt — we are in a participation of nobility.

I start to sweat. It competence be a miss of atmosphere conditioning, nonetheless it’s also nerves. Commoners are not meant to be this close, even if a eminence is wearing tennis boots and a accessible smile, as Raymonde does.

And thereafter she starts to speak about her past, in a French accent that stays difficult adequate to need revisit interpretation from her children, Ray and Maryse (there is a third, Phil, in Virginia). The years warp away, and notwithstanding all a smartphones and other difficult amenities fibbing around, we are shortly ecstatic behind to assigned France. It competence have been a heat, nonetheless as Raymonde spoke, we swore a walls began to blur, like an outcome from a time-travel movie.

She remembers a days when her sequence was scarcely absolute, when she was duke of all she surveyed on a mythological clay courts of Roland Garros Stadium, home of a French Open tennis contest given 1928. She thinks back, with a memory discontinued nonetheless frequency busted by time, to when her republic was riven by war, unfamiliar invasion, guess and partnership with a enemy. She thinks behind to a best of times and a misfortune of times, as that auteur from opposite a Channel would put it, when Raymonde Veber became a best womanlike tennis actor in a republic that didn’t go to her anymore.

And she thinks behind to a tools of her story that are so many some-more critical than tennis.


Raymonde was innate into war. The final of 6 children, she came into universe on a initial day of a final month of 1917, while descent ditch crusade belligerent divided an whole era of Europeans. Shortly before her birth, a French suffered some-more than 250,000 casualties in an descent during Chamin des Dames that warranted them customarily 500 yards of territory. Half a million organisation mutinied, screaming “enough” during generals who mindlessly threw them into German appurtenance guns nonetheless changing tactics. Fortunately, a American Expeditionary Force had arrived in France that summer, and a additional bodies ensured contingent Allied victory.

Raymonde grew adult in a republic rallying behind nonetheless terribly bleeding by a extinction of a Great War. She lived in a commune, or what we would call a township, of Neuilly-sur-Seine. Technically a suburb of Paris, many it is customarily a western prolongation of a City of Light, mostly lumped in with neighborhoods in a 16th arrondissement. The whole area is compared to New York’s Upper East Side, or a Chelsea territory of London — upscale, a homes and avenues suffused with a aroma of wealth.

As it happens, a 16th is also a sporting heart of Paris, home to Roland Garros as good as a Parc de Princes, home of soccer hulk Paris St. Germain, and a Bois de Boulogne, one of a capital’s dual largest parks. In Raymonde’s time, a many critical trickery was a Racing Club de France (RCF), a multi-sport venue where a internal chosen played tennis on finely kept clay courts.

The Vebers were a wealthy, schooled family. Money came in interjection to their factory, a rubber plant that specialized in creation tires. Her father and elder brothers ran a business. Raymonde mostly stranded to her studies, and played with a family menagerie that enclosed “two dogs, dual cats and 3 turtles.”

When she was 12 years old, however, a family alloy told Raymonde and her siblings that they were underdeveloped, and indispensable some-more exercise. He endorsed tennis as an ideal approach to get outward and contest in a absolute way, and shortly a Vebers suspicion some-more about groundstrokes than Flaubert and Balzac. Raymonde was definitely penetrating on a sport, and her talent showed right away. A pro during a Racing Club speckled her and told Raymonde that with coaching, she could be a tip player. “I was unequivocally competitive, even then, and that appealed to me,” she says.

Raymonde was a petite hustler who could cover a whole justice nonetheless excelled in a classical clay justice character of bashing divided from a baseline until her foe surrendered. “The one-handed backhand was my tip weapon,” she recalls. By a late-‘30s, as a intensity for another quarrel darkened a European horizon, Raymonde had ascended to a top ranks of French players. The careful lady had also grown into a dark-haired beauty, her curls framing an open, accessible grin that belied her torpedo instincts on a court.

French tennis was in a midst of a boom, one spurred by a unaccompanied event. In Sep 1927, a United States, winners of 7 true Davis Cup championships behind a mythological “Big Bill” Tilden, took on a French patrol during a Germantown Cricket Club in Philadelphia. These Frenchmen had been winning what we now impute to as Grand Slam events, nonetheless in “international play,” that mattered some-more in those days (the Davis Cup finals were roughly homogeneous to soccer’s World Cup finals today) a U.S. was deliberate unbeatable. The Yanks took a 2-1 lead by a doubles round, nonetheless thereafter Rene Lacoste (he of a eponymous alligator shirts) bested Tilden in 4 sets. Henri Cochet pennyless a tie with a four-set improved of Bill Johnston, and a dissapoint was complete.


Lacoste and Cochet were already renouned in a internal country, nonetheless a improved of a Americans catapulted them, along with teammates Jean Borotra and Jacques Brugnon, into a sporting stratosphere. The 4 became immortals in France, approximating Babe Ruth’s impact and status in baseball. Dubbed “Les Quatre Mosquetaires” (the “Four Musketeers”) and infrequently a “Philadelphia Four,” a party was directly obliged for millions of Frenchmen and women picking adult rackets and apropos invested in a game. Interest was so high in a lapse confront a following tumble that a new venue, Le Stade Roland Garros, named after Roland Garros, an aviation colonize and World War we drifting ace was built to horde a 1928 Davis Cup (and all successive French Opens). This time, a Four Musketeers pummeled a U.S. 4-1, and their aggrandisement in France was finish (the Musketeers would go on to win 6 true Davis Cup titles).

Raymonde’s argent play got her beheld by a sport’s elite, and she became accessible with all of a Musketeers, in sold Cochet. “We all strike together during several times,” Raymonde remembers, and Cochet, a small male with a absolute baseline game, was a good compare for Raymonde’s style. However, while a likes of Lacoste and Cochet done good income for their efforts, Raymonde never warranted a franc personification tennis. “It was all pledge stuff,” she recalls. Unlike a men, there wasn’t many witness direct for a women’s diversion outward of a majors, that were particularly pledge until 1968. Only singular exceptions such as French fable Suzanne Lenglen, who won 31 championships between 1914 and 1926 and systematic vast audiences even for muster matches, perceived paydays from tennis.

Raymonde didn’t get many patrimonial support, either. When she was 17, her father suffered a cadence one night during cooking and upheld away. Her brothers were mostly older, one 17 years her senior, and a family business assigned them thoroughly. “Father was dead, and mom knew zero about tennis,” she says currently nonetheless any apparent bitterness. She played spasmodic with one brother, Roger. “We were close, nonetheless he was not unequivocally good,” she says with a smile, nonetheless her other brothers occasionally saw her play. Plenty of other people did see her, however. In 1938 and ‘39 she was on her approach to severe Simonne Mathieu, French Open champion and a neighbor of Raymonde’s in Neuilly, for inhabitant supremacy.

The early months of 1940 were a pleasing time for her. Raymonde was 22 years old, an appealing immature lady in a amicable whisk of wealthy Paris. Even a war, that had begun in Sep of 1939 when a Nazis invaded Poland, was in an interregnum, a “Sitzkrieg,” (also called a “Phoney War” or a “Bore War”) when a winter continue belligerent operations roughly to a halt. Optimistic French adults believed a republic would be spared a repeat of a horrors of World War I.

Then, as nonetheless timed to miscarry a nearing French Open, a Germans invaded France on May 10, 1940. And all altered overnight.

Using their newly grown doctrine of blitzkreig, or lightning war, a Nazis impressed a French, outflanking a array of fortified defenses famous as a Maginot Line and nearing in Paris tiny weeks after a debate began. The supervision fell, and in mid-June, frequency a month after a advance began, a material belonged to a Germans.

By then, Raymonde had already perceived an teaching into what was in store for her and her country. “During a invasion,” she says, “the Luftwaffe unequivocally inebriated Paris unequivocally heavily. Our pleasing section [complex] was strike unequivocally hard, nonetheless a tangible bedrooms were luckily spared. Unfortunately, my mom and sister Suzanne were so frightened that they refused to stay anywhere circuitously Paris. So we had to expostulate them south, divided from a advancing Germans.” The Vebers evacuated to Cantal, a frugally populated alpine department (roughly homogeneous to a state), where many refugees fled from a fighting.

“I was on my approach behind to Neuilly when it got too dim to continue. we stopped for a night in a hotel. During a night, a German (airplane) forsaken some bombs that strike a front of a hotel. There was a good understanding of damage, and all a lights went out. My room wasn’t hit, nonetheless we suspicion it would be safer to find a basement. As we started to try and find my approach around in a dark, we saw a small cat. we picked him up, and together, we attempted to find a approach subterraneous to safety. The whole building was shaking. Rubble was descending all around. Soon adequate we detected that there wasn’t any cellar, during slightest zero where we could hide. So we went behind to my room, and huddled in bed, a pool in my arms. Somehow we survived a night, and we went behind home. The cat stayed behind.”

Raymonde done a identical outing shortly thereafter that resulted in another slight escape. “With a area around a section strike by bombs, we stayed with my crony Odette during her residence nearby. The Germans were unequivocally tighten to Paris by this point, and like my mother, Odette’s mom got unequivocally nervous, naturally. We gathering her out to a republic as well. On a approach back, we never done it to Paris. The Germans were already marching a way. We had to spin around. Our automobile was roughly out of gas, so we stopped to devise a subsequent move.

“We happened to stop circuitously a preserve for women. There were women who were bleeding [from a bombing and artillery fire] and also some who were pregnant. We were asked to assistance lift these women to a sanatorium that was close. In exchange, we would be given some petrol. We done a integrate of trips carrying stretchers. We had customarily picked adult another bucket when some Italian soldiers [allied to a Germans] machine-gunned us. Incredibly, no one was hurt. But we were pinned down for scarcely 3 days. We attempted several times to get a women to a hospital, nonetheless we were incited behind by gunfire any time. We carnivorous a whole time. At last, a fighting altered on, and we were giveaway to pierce — and to eat! We could customarily conduct a small meal, and there was wine. It was many too clever for us, substantially since a bellies were so empty.”

Raymonde’s life fast altered from one of tennis and convenience to one of tough work and fear. Her brothers had assimilated a fight. Roger enlisted in a French Army and left to conflict a Germans. “He was restrained quickly, and was hold as a restrained for 7 prolonged years,” she recalls. “We knew he was alive, nonetheless we had no strike with him a whole time.” Another brother, Robert, took to a panorama and fought with a armed resistance, a Maquis, which intent in guerilla raids on function forces.

In a meantime, it fell to Raymonde to run a family tire factory, that remained in operation during a war. “I worked from 7 in a morning until good into a evening. It was unequivocally tough, of course, nonetheless everybody was in a same boat, we customarily had to get on with it.” She stayed fit by bicycling to and from a factory. “It was 4 years on a bicycle,” she says, indicating out that frequency anyone solely German officers were driving, generally due to miss of fuel.

The invaders set adult what was, by their heartless standards, a good function force in Paris, while a new French supervision shaped in a southern city of Vichy. The French WWI favourite Marshal Philippe Petain, thereafter 84 years aged and once worshiped via France, was put in charge. The Vichy rulers espoused hard-core worried values and served as a puppet regime, auxiliary with their occupiers, happily rounding adult Jews and abrasive giveaway countenance during a insistence of their Nazi masters in Paris.

Contrary to a clouds of revisionist promotion post-war French leaders propagated in sequence to move a republic together, during a quarrel France was frequency a republic of one resistance. Yes, there were those who fought opposite a Nazis, both passively, like Raymonde, and actively, like her brother. But there were as many who lustily bought in to a Third Reich’s tomfoolery about Aryan supremacy. Most grappled with churned emotions and embraced realpolitik — we did what we had to do to get along.

In a box of many French women, that meant branch their wiles on a new organisation in town.

The Germans astounded a French, behaving not as a Mongol hordes they were portrayed as being, nonetheless by handing out food and candy and by preserving a city’s enlightenment and architecture. Hitler systematic his army to take zero from Paris solely photographs. Handsome in their stiff uniforms and dauntless and proficient in war, a occupiers stood in sheer contrariety to a French waste they had so simply brushed aside in battle.

French women began sleeping with a Nazis in earnest, a use referred to as “horizontal collaboration.” Some did it for unsentimental reasons, as a means to safeguard improved food, lodging, or security. Others did it out of genuine affection. Few seemed to have regrets over a arrangement. As Arletty, a famous French singer who conducted a unequivocally open event with a German Luftwaffe officer, put it, “My heart is French nonetheless my donkey is international.”

Raymonde, for her part, would have nothing of it. “I listened about that arrange of thing going on, nonetheless we hated a Germans too many to do it myself.” After all, these were a same people imprisoning her brother. Another occurrence early in a function hardened her outrage.

“One day we was on my approach to work, roving my bicycle to a bureau as usual. The Germans were interlude people and herding them aside. we managed to float past, and we didn’t know what was happening. All we knew was that we shouldn’t stop and ask questions. Later, on my approach back, we got a answer. About 30 immature people lay upheld on a grass. Someone, many expected a member of a resistance, had shot and killed a German soldier. As revenge, they killed 30 Frenchmen and women. And they were all unequivocally young, no some-more than 20 years old.”

“I was already not unequivocally lustful of Germans, nonetheless that cemented a feeling.”

In magnetism with her brothers, Raymonde wore armbands underneath her clothes, ones temperament a Cross of Lorraine or a letters “FFI” station for “Forces Françaises de l’Intérieur,” compared with a armed resistance, notwithstanding a apparent risk should a German infantryman learn a fact. Her mom frantically pleaded with her to play it safer than that, nonetheless Raymonde refused.

After roughly a year, her hermit Robert left a forests for a factory, withdrawal Raymonde with time to lapse to her tennis. This dovetailed with a new Vichy gauge that embraced sports and fitness, in sequence to make their republic tough and tough once again, as it had been in a stately past of Napoleon — and as a Germans were now.

Throughout assigned France, skeleton were announced for a construction of a grand sporting infrastructure. One of a categorical voices during a conduct of this Vichy transformation was a member of a Four Musketeers and crony of Raymonde’s — Jean Borotra.

Naively, he primarily bought into a promotion and became a First General Commissioner to Sports. Later, when a promises went mostly undelivered and he saw in some-more fact a horrors being perpetrated by his “friends” in Vichy and a Germans in Paris, Borotra had a change of heart. In a tumble of 1942, in an violent impulse of honesty, he told his bosses he designed to join a quarrel opposite them. Naturally, he was arrested by a Gestapo and sent to a jail stay outward Berlin, where he was hold in unique capture and forced to review Mein Kampf.

After some-more than dual years in captivity, in 1945 Borotra escaped. He crossed a front lines, done strike with American forces, and led them behind to a prison, where they restrained a SS guards who had hold him.


One good thing did come from a Vichy sporting initiative. The French Open had been canceled due to a German advance in 1940, nonetheless in 1941, a inhabitant contest was once again hold during Roland Garros. It wasn’t accurately a same as a peacetime Open, as it was customarily for French competitors (with a few internal bar players innate in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium tossed in), nonetheless a new Tournoi de France was fiercely fought over customarily a same. Musketeer Henri Cochet seemed in all 5 wartime tournaments, nonetheless was never means to win. The men’s titles from 1943-45 were won by 6’5 Yvon Petra, creatively expelled from a German restrained of quarrel stay where he had been hold after being restrained in conflict while fighting in a French Army (Petra went on to win Wimbledon in 1946, apropos a final champ to take Centre Court in prolonged trousers).

Now that Raymonde had a reason to lapse to a courts, she began training once more, during night after work in a factory, on courts with few lights (the Germans had forced France to run on Daylight Savings Time). There were still no loot during interest — a Vichy supervision criminialized veteran athletics, citing money’s incriminating outcome on sport. So maybe it comes as no warn that Raymonde remembers small of a 1941-43 tournaments, save for one sold detail. The leader of a initial dual women’s French championships was Alice Weiwers of Luxembourg. When we ask Raymonde her impressions of Alice, she puffs out her cheeks, spreads her arms, and sneers, “Fat.”

“We were not generally friendly,” she adds, unnecessarily.

Part of a reason a Tournois have faded from Raymonde’s memory is that she was bustling personification in other matches that were distant some-more critical from a presence standpoint. She assimilated a roving organisation that competed opposite other squads in several cities. “If we won,” she recalls, “we got to eat.” There was no income prize, nonetheless a winners were awarded chickens, eggs, fruit and other edibles. “If we lost, we went hungry.” Raymonde’s high-caliber play customarily meant her organisation ate well.

Still, wartime apprehension intruded in her life in another way. The Vichy government, like their Nazi overseers, dull adult and deported Jews by a thousands. One place Jews and other “undesirables” were interned before being sent easterly to thoroughness camps was Le Stade Roland Garros. According to author and publisher Arthur Koestler, a Jew who was hold during a Grand Slam venue and wrote about his practice in “Scum of a Earth,” his memoir, “At Roland Garros, we called ourselves a cavern dwellers. About 600 of us … lived underneath a stairways of a stadium. We slept on straw — soppy straw, since a place leaked. We were so congested in, we felt like sardines … It smelled of pollution and excrement, and customarily slits of light (could) find their approach inside. Few of us knew anything about tennis, nonetheless when we were authorised to take a transport in a stadium, we could see a names Borotra and Brugnon on a scoreboard.” Borotra, remember, was during a time tacitly endorsing these evils by his organisation with a Vichy government.

According to one study, some-more than 75,000 Jews were deported from France. Thanks to Raymonde, one transient a apprehension of a camps.

“One night there was a raging knocking on a section door,” she remembers. “I non-stop it to find a lady we knew from tennis, one of my attack partners, named Jacqueline Foy. She was great hysterically. Her father had been taken away, she said. She feared she was subsequent — no Jews were safe. we didn’t know her unequivocally well, nonetheless she was jolt and so afraid, so we let her in.”

Foy was about 26 or 27 during this time, several years comparison than Raymonde, a gifted actor who competed internationally. They became astonishing roommates. “She didn’t leave,” Raymonde says. “Jacqueline lived in a section for a subsequent 6 months. She was terrified. She never went outward a whole time, customarily hid in a apartment. She had no uninformed air. we don’t know how she could mount it, nonetheless of impetus she feared what would occur if she left. We fed her and never breathed a word about where she was.”

“Finally, after 6 months, Jacqueline’s mom sent word that she was protected in a countryside, and that Jacqueline should come and join her. So she slipped out of a apartment. we never saw her again.”

Raymonde hasn’t returned mostly to France over a years, nonetheless on one outing behind to her internal republic she was told that Jacqueline had survived and had returned to Paris after a war. Raymonde headed true for Jacqueline’s final famous residence and knocked on a door. Alas, a family member who answered told Raymonde that Jacqueline had recently upheld away. Raymonde asked if Jacqueline’s father had survived.

“He was never seen again,” she was told.


Alice Weiwers was beaten by Simone Lafargue in a 1943 final. Then in 1944, it was Raymonde’s turn. At 27 years old, she was in her jaunty prime, and notwithstanding a hardships of vital underneath occupation, she played her best tennis.

There was a gratifying atmosphere during Roland Garros that summer, with vast crowds and “not so many Germans,” according to Raymonde. This might have something to do with a fact that a Tournoi took place in late-July, after a Allies had landed during Normandy, and were relentlessly pushing toward Paris.

Raymonde done a identical impetus by a women’s competition, removing to a finals, where she met a younger foe named Jacqueline Portoni. “She was good-looking,” Raymonde remembers. “An all-rounder, with a plain diversion in all areas, nonetheless no one specific specialty.” Precise sum of a compare itself evade Raymonde’s differently clever memory. But a large design sticks with her, if not a play by play.

“I wasn’t generally nervous,” she says. “It was a good, even match, nonetheless we all had perspective. we wanted to win, of course, nonetheless in a end, it was customarily a tennis match. It wasn’t unequivocally critical compared to a war.”

Raymonde did indeed win, 6-4 in a initial set and 9-7 in what contingency have been an epic second set. With a win, Raymonde became a final womanlike champion crowned while a Germans ruled France.

The Racing Club was vivacious that one of their possess had turn French National Champion, and threw a celebration accepting to respect Raymonde’s victory, full with a cooking and dancing. There was no esteem money, of course, so a Club respected her in classical Gallic character — they bought her a new dress. “Hermes!” she recalls with delight, clearly envisioning a engineer indication all these years later.

When we ask if winning a contest done her a celebrity, Raymonde nods modestly. Exactly how good famous she was is formidable to establish according to today’s standards — she was no mega-star, certainly, nonetheless she would expected have been famous around Paris for her jaunty achievements.


There was one chairman who knew about her — General Dietrich von Choltitz, a autocratic German officer in Paris. One day an executive from a Racing Club approached Raymonde while she was training. He had a ask — a Nazi commander favourite to play tennis and had listened Raymonde was a estimable opponent. He asked for a match.

Raymonde flatly refused. “There were always Germans around on a courts,” she says, “and we would be asked to play from time to time. But we never did. Sometimes they would be on a justice right subsequent to mine, and we never spoke a singular word to any of them.”

After a war, many French claimed to have adopted this opinion toward their occupiers, nonetheless everybody knew who was a collaborateur and who was not. After liberation, women who had given themselves so openly to a Germans had their heads shaved in public. Arletty, a aforementioned singer who took a Nazi lover, was thrown in jail for 18 months. A call of executions swept a republic before a new supervision underneath Charles de Gaulle, a genuine insurgency hero, easy order. Marshall Petain was condemned to genocide by banishment squad, nonetheless de Gaulle commuted that to life imprisonment.

“I, for one, never blamed any French chairman for anything (they did during a occupation),” Raymonde says. Fortunately, she never had to worry about such backlash, for she was solidly anti-German from a start. Even decades later, that still counted in her home country. Her son Ray clearly remembers concomitant his mom to Paris and carrying people stop and admiringly speak to her. “We were treated unequivocally well,” he recalls. “Mom was respected so many since she never entertained any notions of dating or differently befriending any Germans.”

On Aug. 25, 1944, customarily weeks after Raymonde won a Tournoi de France, Paris was liberated. Von Choltitz, a German Raymonde refused to play, allegedly abandoned Hitler’s sequence to destroy a city on his approach out of town. One thing is certain — Paris wasn’t burnt to a ground. So a City of Light remained stately when a Allies marched into a city. “I trafficked from Neuilly,” Raymonde says, “to a Place de L’Etoile [now called a Place Charles de Gaulle, a executive Parisian heart where several avenues meet] to see a French Forces impetus … we don’t consider we ever felt so altered as during this moment. My tears were using down my face. What a moment!”

But perils remained, and a many unfortunate, mocking predestine roughly claimed Raymonde. “The Americans had arrived, nonetheless there was still danger,” she says. “German snipers were still around. One non-stop glow circuitously where my mom and we were standing. We hid underneath a truck. We suspicion we were protected until we saw it was a gasoline truck! Luckily, it was not hit.”

The final of a Germans were shortly burning out, and life solemnly returned to something entrance normalcy. In 1945, Raymonde attempted and unsuccessful to urge her pretension during Roland Garros. The final womanlike champ of a Tournoi de France was Lolette Payot of Switzerland. That September, Raymonde trafficked south for a contest in Cannes, famous for a beach review and film festival (which began in 1946). “There came a figure of my destiny,” she recalls.

A tall, large American officer approached Raymonde while she was practicing. His name, coincidentally enough, was Raymond — Ray Geyer Jones (fortunately, he went by “Guy”). A 26-year aged vital in a artillery of Gen. George Patton’s Third Army, Jones had seen movement in North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, and a Battle of a Bulge, receiving a Silver Star and several other medals along a way. Guy was a good athlete, too — he played wingback on a same Harvard football organisation as John F. Kennedy. His tennis diversion wasn’t definitely as good, nonetheless he figured he could kick a lady with a curls. He challenged her to a match, and this time, Raymonde accepted.

“I kick him 6-0, 6-0, 6-0,” she says with a laugh. “He was a hacker! we kick him to pieces, nonetheless bending him for good.” Guy was stunned, nonetheless had adequate clarity to ask a lady who had customarily demolished him on a justice for a date. Raymonde supposed this challenge, too, nonetheless she done one thing unequivocally transparent — no “coucher avec moi,” as she says. In other words, Major Jones was tighten out for a second time that day.

But that view didn’t final long. Guy got a three-day pass in sequence to revisit Raymonde in Paris, and after those 72 hours, a American and a Frenchwoman had reached an entente. Ten days later, Guy asked Raymonde to marry him. “I pronounced no during first, since we all knew Americans were not serious,” she says, nonetheless shortly relented. They marry in a church in Neuilly on Nov. 5, 1945. Another American officer served as best man, and gave a bride away. Guy had to get behind to his unit, that was by now in Germany, “or what was left of it,” as Raymonde says, so they honeymooned amid a ruins.

Before a year was out, Guy had been eliminated behind to a States. Raymonde went too, nonetheless by herself, a frightful tour opposite an sea and into a unknown. The ever-adaptable French women were bustling marrying Americans by a score, nonetheless Raymonde believes she was a initial quarrel bride to transport to a States. She bribed her approach onto a load steamer, a Cap Elizabeth, by handing over her fur coat. Upon attainment in New York harbor, a vessel was quarantined for a brief spell while a passengers were checked for disease. Guy took a speedboat out to a liner to reunite with his new wife. The integrate had a some-more normal honeymoon during Niagara Falls, thereafter gathering opposite a country, eventually circuitous adult during their new home, Fort Riley, Kan.

Paris it was not.


“It was unequivocally hard,” Raymonde recalls. “I was unequivocally homesick, and nonetheless we had schooled English in school, we struggled. There were no other French people there. Worse, there were customarily tough courts!” But after a tribulations she had faced during a war, executive Kansas wasn’t going to get a best of her, no matter how bleak. “I didn’t wish to leave. Many French women did divorce their American husbands shortly after a quarrel and returned to France, customarily to do worse.”

Raymonde stranded it out by that billeting, and one in Oklahoma, before alighting in Northern Virginia. Guy had switched venues from land to air, and was apropos an critical idealist in a judgment of tighten atmosphere support. He went on to offer 3 tours in Vietnam, and, according to his son Ray flew some-more atmosphere hours (in both helicopters and bound wing aircraft) than any commander in any service.

He upheld divided in 2010 and is buried during a Arlington National Cemetery. He never did best Raymonde during tennis. “I once offering to buy mom a mink cloak if she let Dad kick her,” Ray recalls. “She customarily said, ‘No way.’”

While her father was fighting for his country, tennis postulated Raymonde. “I was insane infrequently since we was all alone, lifting 3 children myself, nonetheless a diversion filled a void.” Raymonde didn’t remove her skills after emigrating. She rose as high as 13th in a USTA National Rankings and from 1961-71 she won a informal Mid-Atlantic Women’s championship 9 times, never dropping a set. She was also rarely ranked in doubles, teaming with Carol Herrick, a associate tennis recurrent who also played with Raymonde during a Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va.

“Her organisation played each singular day, in snow, rain, sleet, we name it,” Herrick remembers. “Raymonde used to wear a sock with a hole cut out over her palm instead of gloves on unequivocally cold days. And we were thankful to play many sets, not customarily one or two. we vividly remember a large sirocco entrance by as we played, and we started to container adult my gear. ‘No, we finish,’ Raymonde insisted, and we did.”

When we ask Raymonde about Carol, her respond is elementary — “I used to kick her.”

That rival fervour (“Mom taught me how to rabble talk,” Ray says) extended into her dotage. Raymonde played in comparison tournaments good into her 80s, and customarily stopped attack a few years ago. Yet in all that time, notwithstanding her accomplishments on a justice and in use to her country, she has never been invited behind to Roland Garros to pound a few rite one-hand backhands, or even to call to a throng and accept prolonged overdue plaudits for her wartime actions on and off a court. And when a 2015 French Open finals take place during Roland Garros during a finish of subsequent week, and a stories of past champions are told, Raymonde Veber, maybe a many truly drastic champion of them all, is doubtful to be mentioned.

Neither a International Tennis Federation nor a Federation Francaise de Tennis (French Tennis Federation, or FTF) commend a wartime tournaments as executive French Opens, even nonetheless a entrance mandate weren’t any opposite than they had been before to 1924, when customarily French bar members were authorised to compete. Those winners, including Cochet, Borotra and Lenglen, are famous as French Open champions. But Raymonde, Alice Weiwers, Yvon Petra and a other wartime champions are not.

A vital reason for this intransigence might be a difficult attribute France still has with a quarrel and a occupation. The scars of chagrin and partnership have nonetheless to fade, even after all this time. Raymonde and a other winners from 1941-45 have been created off as material damage. Numerous new emails to a FTF seeking for a criticism of any kind about a wartime tournois were definitely ignored.

Meanwhile, a vital couple to this unusual cut of lost story sits in her easy chair in Jacksonville. She’ll be examination a Open, as always, nonetheless adds, “They never worried to ask me to come back, or even to strike me in any way.” Raymonde says she is not dissapoint by it, nonetheless how can she not bristle customarily a bit during such unfair treatment?

It positively is no approach to provide a queen.

source ⦿ http://www.sbnation.com/longform/2015/5/27/8659877/roland-garros-at-war-the-oldest-french-tennis-champion-tells-all

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