In the second set Wills warmed to the contest. "A thing that surprised me," she wrote in Fifteen-Thirty, "was that I found her balls not unusually difficult to hit, nor did they carry as much speed as the balls of several other of the leading women players whom I had met in matches. But her balls kept coming back, coming back, and each time to a spot on the court which was a little more difficult to get to."
Lenglen lost a long game at 3—all, but then, heartened by a bad call that went in her favor, evened the score 4-4. In the 12th game, at 40-15, match point, there was another long rally, and Wills sent a hard, fast forehand to Lenglen's forehand corner. A voice called "Out!" Lenglen trotted to the net smiling, her hand outstretched. Spectators poured onto the court. Baskets of flowers appeared as if out of the air. In the midst of this pandemonium a linesman, Lord Charles Hope, almost unnoticed, approached the umpire's chair to say that the ball had been good, that he had not called it out.
The umpire, one Commander George Hillyard, changed the score to 40-30. In a few minutes the court was cleared and the players returned to their positions, one drained, the other revivified. Lenglen lost the next three points and the game to make the score 6—all, but 10 minutes later she was again at match point—7-6, 40-15. At that crucial moment she double-faulted, she who was said to have double-faulted only six times in seven years! The game went to deuce. But then, from deep within her well of experience, Lenglen drew two winners in a row and the match was hers, for the second time.
Lenglen sank onto a bench, exhausted, and later, when she was led by friends to a small office near the dressing rooms, she collapsed onto a desk that was covered with neat stacks of bank notes, the proceeds from the sale of tickets. Hysterical now, she began to tear them into little pieces.
As Tunis wrote in the Globe of Lenglen's having to replay match point: "Without a word, without a murmur, without any protest visible or otherwise, she returned to her task.... There was the real champion of champions."
Unwittingly, Tunis was writing Lenglen's epitaph. To the world at large the Wills match was Lenglen's greatest triumph, but a few observers, like Tunis, looking past the bouquets to the shattered figure and then over to her taller opponent in the sun visor standing unnoticed and unperturbed amid the confusion, sensed the truth, that at long last Suzanne's successor had appeared. Lenglen surely knew it, too.
About a year before the match in Cannes, a crass but inventive American sports promoter named Charles C. (Cash and Carry) Pyle, who had dollar signs spinning where his eyes should have been, stepped onto Lenglen's stage. Pyle, who has been described as "P.T. Barnum with a short attention span," knew nothing whatever about tennis, but he knew box office when he saw it. He had already made his reputation by signing the University of Illinois' Red Grange to a professional football contract. Now Pyle wanted a class act. Pyle offered Lenglen $50,000 on the spot and possibly more later, depending on the gate, for a four-month tour of the U.S. For months, Papa Lenglen and Suzanne vigorously denied rumors that she was to be paid, but the facts were that Charles's health was poor and her funds were running low. If ever there was a time to cash in on Suzanne's celebrity, this was it, while she remained unbeaten and her fame undiminished. Still, becoming a professional was a daring idea. Perhaps Suzanne felt that her status made her unique, that the tennis establishment, which had deferred to her for so many years, would not dare to ostracize her now. Or perhaps the unfortunate events at Wimbledon in 1926 made up her mind for her.
There, because of a scheduling change about which Lenglen claimed not to have been informed, Queen Mary, who had come one afternoon especially to see Lenglen play, sat gazing from the Royal Box at an empty court for half an hour. Overnight, British fans and the press, insulted in behalf of their queen, were transformed from Lenglen's adoring subjects into raving chauvinists ready to take up arms against her in defense of crown and country. She played one more match at Wimbledon, a mixed doubles with Jean Borotra, and then withdrew from the tournament.
On Aug. 2, 1926, Pyle held a press conference in Paris to announce that Lenglen had signed with him. He did not mention money; he knew enough to leave that to the imagination of the reporters. Predictably, a New York newspaper headline read: SUZANNE LENGLEN BECOMES A PROFESSIONAL; IS COMING HERE NEXT MONTH FOR $200,000 TOUR.
There was a furor. The French federation, for which Lenglen had earned hundreds of thousands of francs, called her action deplorable, refused her permission to play exhibitions at its member clubs and asked the Nice Tennis Club to expel her, which it did not do. The All England Club, however, revoked her honorary membership.