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Noah, Yannick

Yannick Noah

1960—

Tennis player, singer

The winner of the French Open in 1983 as well as the Italian Open in 1985, Yannick Noah became the first French international tennis celebrity. Often ranked among the Top Ten players of the game early in his career, Noah was discovered by tennis star Arthur Ashe. Over his three-decade-long career he became renowned for his powerful serve, acrobatic net game, electrifying play, winning smile, and flashy dreadlock hairstyle. Leaving tennis in 1992, Noah reinvented himself as a pop star, touring the globe and selling millions of reggae-inspired pop albums.

Began with Homemade Racket

Born on May 18, 1960, in Sedan, France, Yannick Simon Camille Noah is the oldest of three children. His father, Zacharie Noah, was a professional soccer player; his mother, Marie-Claire, was a teacher. When Noah was two years old, his father moved the family to his native Cameroon after an injury ended his soccer career. When the elder Noah took up tennis to keep in shape, he taught Yannick the game. The capital city of Yaounde, where the Noahs lived, had few courts, but Yannick practiced as much as he could by using a wooden racket that he crafted himself. On the day he turned ten years old, Yannick celebrated by arranging a tennis tournament among his friends. He had each contestant pay a dollar to purchase the trophy he won himself.

A year later, Yannick was chosen to attend a clinic at a local tennis club where Arthur Ashe and other professionals were visiting on a tour of Africa. When he was given the chance to play with Ashe—a U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion—Yannick aced the pro once and matched him point for point across the net. Ashe soon contacted Philippe Chatrier, head of the French Tennis Federation, to invite Yannick to attend a special tennis academy in Nice, France. Noah spent the next five years at the academy while attending a local secondary school. Opting to leave secondary school one year short of graduation to focus on tennis, he moved to Paris and came under the instruction of the coach of the French national team, Patrice Hagelauer. The young Yannick went on to win the French junior title in 1977.

By 1980 Noah was ranked the Number One player in France after a series of Grand Prix titles and impressive showings in Grand Slam tournaments. Negative press regarding his confession of smoking hashish periodically—as well as his charge that other athletes used stronger drugs to improve their play—undermined his confidence.

Won French Open

He struggled the next year, but his form returned when he won the French Open in 1983. Suddenly a French celebrity, Noah moved to New York to avoid the harrowing publicity in France. He recuperated from injuries and the loss of his grandfather, a village chief who was murdered during a political coup in Cameroon, playing infrequently in 1984. Strengthened by his rest, Noah won the Italian Open in 1985. Although he reached the finals of many tournaments in the intervening years and was ranked fifth in the world in 1987, Noah failed to win the more prestigious titles, including another French Open.

Marital woes and injury plagued Noah during the late 1980s. Wed to Swedish model Cecilia Rodhe in 1984, Noah divorced her three years later after the births of his son, Joachim, and daughter, Tara. He suffered many defeats, including his loss to John McEnroe in the second round of the 1989 Davis Cup. Noah divulged about McEnroe in the New York Times, "He played very, very well. What can I say? It was very difficult. My knees were fine. I don't even have that excuse."

Despite his athletic prowess, Noah did not advance beyond the quarterfinals in Grand Slam tournaments throughout most of the 1980s. The New York Times stated in 1989, "Yannick Noah has always entertained tennis fans with his flamboyant style of play. His physical ability on sky-high overheads, diving volleys and thunderous serves has always made him stand out on the court. But he has been a bit of an enigma in his years on the circuit." In the U.S. Open that same year, Noah, ranked 23rd in the world, was defeated by Boris Becker in yet another quarterfinal.

"Yannick Noah is back in all his glory and threatening to crash a party that seemed reserved for the usual big names in tennis," crowed a New York Times correspondent in a review of his early play in the 1990 Australian Open. His comeback was short-lived, however, with his loss at the tournament. His malady of seesawing in and out of retirement at the end of the 1980s afflicted Noah into the 1990s. By August of 1990, Robin Finn of the New York Times dubbed the player "a dependable loser" at the U.S. Open. "I'm living one week after the other right now," Noah told Finn. "It's a difficult situation where I'm not playing very well and getting very frustrated." His coach, Dennis Rolston, predicted that if Noah did not improve his training regimen and confront his ambivalence toward the game, he would reach a crisis decision. Noah continued playing, though, capturing the title of captain of the French Davis Cup team the next year.

Led French to Davis Cup

In his debut as captain of France's Davis Cup team, Noah startled the tennis world when he announced on November 28, 1991, that he would play only if another team member was injured. A defending champion who played in the Davis Cup final in Grenoble in 1982 and the Davis Cup quarterfinal in San Diego in 1989, Noah selected Guy Forget and Henri Leconte to lead the team. He explained in the New York Times, "The emotions are still there, but I don't feel like I'm the one who must hold the racquet. I believe the players we have are good enough to win." Under Noah's tutelage, Guy Forget spurred the team to take the Davis Cup on December 1, 1991, when he defeated Pete Sampras three sets to one. With great emotion, Noah joined the team on the courts of Lyon, France, when they celebrated their victory.

After viewing television reports of disturbances between security officers and antiapartheid demonstrators at the world doubles championships in Johannesburg, South Africa, Noah made news again in 1991 when he decided to boycott tennis matches in that country. Although South Africa had just been allowed re-entry into international sports at the beginning of the decade, Noah was quoted by Jet as saying, "Frankly, I can't see myself going there as a player or as captain of France's Davis Cup team. I would have the feeling of being used."

At a Glance …

Born Yannick Simon Camille Noah, May 18, 1960, in Sedan, France; son of Zacharie (a professional soccer player) and Marie-Claire (a teacher; maiden name, Perrier) Noah; married Cecilia (a model), 1984 (divorced, 1987);married Heather Stewart-Whyte 1995 (divorced); children: Joachim Simon and Tara Bianco Katharina (first marriage), and Elijah and Jenaye (second marriage). Education: Attended a tennis academy in Nice, France.

Career:

professional tennis player, 1976-91; captain of French Davis Cup team, 1991-92. singer, 1991—; Les Enfants de la Terre, charity founder; Fete le Mer, charity founder.

Awards:

Winner of numerous tennis titles, including French junior title, 1977; French Open, 1983; Italian Open, 1985; and Benson & Hedges Indoor Championship, London, England, 1986; International Tennis Hall of Fame, inductee, 2005.

Addresses:

Web—www.yannicknoah.com.

Ranked among the Top Six highest-paid male tennis stars, Noah indicated that his devotion to tennis was waning in the 1990s and began investigating the possibility of a career in music. He had begun playing guitar in the 1980s, and found that he loved it. He had formed a 10-man band called Zam Zam and began recording pop and rock music. His first recording went gold in France in 1990—"because I'm popular as a tennis player, not because of the quality of the music," Noah remarked to Rick Marin of the New York Times. An employee of a Parisian record store confirmed Noah's assessment, saying, according to Sports Illustrated, "I suppose it's not too bad…for someone who doesn't sing."

France's loss to Switzerland in the 1992 Davis Cup competition marked the end of Noah's tennis career. To the consternation of the French Tennis Federation, Noah resigned as captain of the 1992 French Davis Cup team. Guy Forget echoed the hope of French officials that Yannick Noah will be persuaded to reconsider his resignation. Although he was publicly criticized by Noah after the French loss to the Swiss team, Forget commented in Sports Illustrated about France's magnetic athlete, "Yannick is irreplaceable." Noah did not reconsider his decision to leave tennis, however, he continued to serve as commentator for tennis tournaments and play occasionally in senior tennis matches.

Reinvented Himself

Noah turned immediately to his passion for music. He and his band began an extensive touring schedule. His four albums released between 2000 and 2006, sealed Noah's status as a genuine pop star. His album sold well and topped European pop charts. His second album, the self-titled Yannick Noah went multiplatinum in France and earned his first Platinum Europe Award in 2004. His 2003 album Pokhara earned a Platinum Europe Award in 2004. The album included reggae-inspired pop music and featured a 40-page photo booklet of the Nepalese region from which the album takes its name. For his 2006 album Charango, Noah searched for inspiration in the Andes mountains of South America. There he found a traditional Latin American instrument called the charango, which he added to his reggae-inspired pop music for a new sound.

Aside from his thriving career as a popular musician, Noah continued to enjoy celebrity from his tennis days. In 2005 he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Noah also proved himself a generous philanthropist, starting the charities Les Enfants de la Terre, to help provide homes and support to needy children, and Fete le Mur, to promote tennis among underprivileged French children. He also started to enjoy the rise of fame in his own son, Joakim, who proved to be a leader on the college basketball court in Florida, leading the University of Florida to consecutive NCAA basketball championships in 2006 and 2007. Active and interested, Noah seemed far from finished reinventing himself.

Selected works

Albums

Black and What!, Welcome Records, 1991.

Yannick Noah, 2000.

Yannick Noah Live, 2002.

Pokhara, 2003.

Metisse, 2005.

Charango, 2006.

Sources

Periodicals

Jet, October 26, 1987; August 21, 1989; October 16, 1989; September 10, 1990; December 23, 1991; August 8, 2005.

New York Times, April 4, 1989; September 4, 1989; September 7, 1989; January 18, 1990; January 26, 1990; August 31, 1990; November 29, 1991; September 13, 1992, p. A10.

Sports Illustrated, June 6, 1991; April 13, 1992.

Sunday Times, January 26, 2003, p. 28.

Tennis, February 1992, p. 136.

On-line

Yannick Noah,www.yannicknoah.com (March 28, 2007).

                                                                —Marjorie Burgess and Sara Pendergast

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"Noah, Yannick." Contemporary Black Biography. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Noah, Yannick." Contemporary Black Biography. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. (July 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2694500041.html

"Noah, Yannick." Contemporary Black Biography. 2007. Retrieved July 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2694500041.html

Noah, Yannick 1960–

Yannick Noah 1960

Professional tennis player

At a Glance

Won French Open and Italian Open

Made a Short-Lived Comeback

Resigned as Davis Cup Team Captain

Sources

Im playing the way I love to play, popular tennis star Yannick Noah told the New York Times after a match the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. I compete. I serve well. I just give everything I have. The winner of the French Open in 1983 as well as the Italian Open in 1985, Noah is renowned for his powerful serve, acrobatic net game, electrifying play, and flashy dreadlock hairstyle.

Often ranked among the Top Ten players of the game early in his career, Noah was discovered by tennis star Arthur Ashe. His considerable athletic gifts notwithstanding, Noah has been unable to recapture his initial glory. Toying with the idea of retirement from professional tennis in the 1990s, the colorful athlete was also pursuing a singing career.

Born on May 18, 1960, in Sedan, France, Yannick Simon Camille Noah is the oldest of three children. His father, Zacharie Noah, was a professional soccer player; his mother, Marie-Claire, was a teacher. When Noah was two years old, his father moved the family to his native Cameroon after an injury ended his soccer career. When the elder Noah took up tennis to keep in shape, he taught Yannick the game. The capital city of Yaounde, where the Noahs lived, had few courts, but Yannick practiced as much as he could using a wooden racket that he crafted himself. On the day he turned ten years old, Yannick celebrated by arranging a tennis tournament among his friends. He had each contestant pay a dollar to purchase the trophy he won himself.

A year later, Yannick was chosen to attend a clinic at a local tennis club where Arthur Ashe and other professionals were visiting on a tour of Africa. When he was given the chance to play with Ashea U.S. Open and Wimbledon championYannick aced the pro once and matched him point for point across the net. Ashe soon contacted Philippe Chatrier, head of the French Tennis Federation, to invite Yannick to attend a special tennis academy in Nice, France. Noah spent the next five years at the academy while attending a local secondary school. Opting to leave secondary school one year short of graduation to focus on tennis, he moved to Paris and came under the instruction of the coach of the French national team, Patrice Hagelauer. The young Yannick went on to win the French junior title in 1977.

By 1980 Noah was ranked the Number One player in France after a series of Grand Prix titles and impressive

At a Glance

Born Yannick Simon Camille Noah, May 18, 1960, in Sedan, France; son of Zacharie (a professional soccer player) and Marie-Claire (a teacher; maiden name, Perrier) Noah; married wife Cecilia (a model), 1984 (divorced, 1987); children: Joachim Simon, Tara Bianco Katharina. Education: Attended a tennis academy in Nice, France.

Professional tennis player; discovered by Arthur Ashe; ranked among Top Ten players in the world at various points in his career; captain of French Davis Cup team, 1991-92. Pursued singing profession; released debut album, Black and What, Welcome Records, C. 1991.

Selected awards: Winner of numerous tennis titles, including French junior title, 1977; French Open, 1983; Italian Open, 1985; and Benson & Hedges Indoor Championship, London, England, 1986.

Addresses: c/o ProServ, Inc., 1101 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 1800, Arlington, VA 22209.

showings in Grand Slam tournaments. Negative press regarding his confession of smoking hashish periodically as well as his charge that other athletes used stronger drugs to improve their playundermined his confidence.

Won French Open and Italian Open

He struggled the next year, but his form returned when he won the French Open in 1983. Suddenly a French celebrity, Noah moved to New York to avoid the harrowing publicity in France. He recuperated from injuries and the loss of his grandfather, a village chief who was murdered during a political coup in Cameroon, playing infrequently in 1984. Strengthened by his rest, Noah won the Italian Open in 1985. Although he reached the finals of many tournaments in the intervening years and was ranked fifth in the world in 1987, Noah failed to win the more prestigious titles, including another French Open.

Marital woes and injury plagued Noah during the late 1980s. Wed to Swedish model Cecilia Rodhe in 1984, Noah divorced her three years later after the births of his son, Joachim, and daughter, Tara. He suffered many defeats, including his loss to John McEnroe in the second round of the 1989 Davis Cup. Noah divulged about McEnroe in the New York Times, He played very, very well. What can I say? It was very difficult. My knees were fine. I dont even have that excuse.

Despite his athletic prowess, Noah did not advance beyond the quarterfinals in Grand Slam tournaments throughout most of the 1980s. The New York Times stated in 1989, Yannick Noah has always entertained tennis fans with his flamboyant style of play. His physical ability on sky-high overheads, diving volleys and thunderous serves has always made him stand out on the court. But he has been a bit of an enigma in his years on the circuit. In the U.S. Open that same year, Noah, ranked 23rd in the world, was defeated by Boris Becker in yet another quarterfinal.

Made a Short-Lived Comeback

Yannick Noah is back in all his glory and threatening to crash a party that seemed reserved for the usual big names in tennis, crowed a New York Times correspondent in a review of his early play in the 1990 Australian Open. His comeback was short-lived, however, with his loss at the tournament. His malady of seesawing in and out of retirement at the end of the 1980s afflicted Noah into the 1990s. By August of 1990, Robin Finn of the New York Times dubbed the player a dependable loser at the U.S. Open. Im living one week after the other right now, Noah told Finn. Its a difficult situation where Im not playing very well and getting very frustrated. His coach, Dennis Rolston, predicted that if Noah did not improve his training regimen and confront his ambivalence toward the game, he would reach a crisis decision. Noah continued playing, though, capturing the title of captain of the French Davis Cup team the next year.

In his debut as captain of Frances Davis Cup team, Noah startled the tennis world when he announced on November 28, 1991, that he would play only if another team member was injured. A defending champion who played in the Davis Cup final in Grenoble in 1982 and the Davis Cup quarterfinal in San Diego in 1989, Noah selected Guy Forget and Henri Leconte to lead the team. He explained in the New York Times, The emotions are still there, but I dont feel like Im the one who must hold the racquet. I believe the players we have are good enough to win. Under Noahs tutelage, Guy Forget spurred the team to take the Davis Cup on December 1, 1991, when he defeated Pete Sampras three sets to one. With great emotion, Noah joined the team on the courts of Lyon, France, when they celebrated their victory.

Resigned as Davis Cup Team Captain

After viewing television reports of disturbances between security officers and antiapartheid demonstrators at the world doubles championships in Johannesburg, South Africa, Noah made news again in 1991 when he decided to boycott tennis matches in that country. Although South Africa had just been allowed re-entry into international sports at the beginning of the decade, Noah was quoted by Jet as saying, Frankly, I cant see myself going there as a player or as captain of Frances Davis Cup team. I would have the feeling of being used.

Ranked among the Top Six highest-paid male tennis stars, Noah has indicated that his devotion to tennis is waning. During the 1990s, he was investigating the possibility of a career as a vocalist. When Welcome Records released his debut album, Black and What, in 1991, an employee of a Parisian record store allowed, according to Sports Illustrated, I suppose its not too bad... for someone who doesnt sing. Frances loss to Switzerland in the 1992 Davis Cup competition convinced Noah to pursue another plan for his future. To the consternation of the French Tennis Federation, Noah resigned as captain of the 1992 French Davis Cup team. Guy Forget echoed the hope of French officials that Yannick Noah will be persuaded to reconsider his resignation. Although he was publicly criticized by Noah after the French loss to the Swiss team, Forget commented in Sports Illustrated about Frances magnetic athlete, Yannick is irreplaceable.

Sources

Jet, October 26, 1987; August 21, 1989; October 16, 1989; September 10, 1990; December 23, 1991.

New York Times, April 4, 1989; September 4, 1989; September 7, 1989; January 18, 1990; January 26, 1990; August 31, 1990; November 29, 1991.

Sports Illustrated, June 6, 1991; April 13, 1992.

Marjorie Burgess

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
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  • APA

Burgess, Marjorie. "Noah, Yannick 1960–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1993. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Burgess, Marjorie. "Noah, Yannick 1960–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1993. Encyclopedia.com. (July 27, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2870600053.html

Burgess, Marjorie. "Noah, Yannick 1960–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1993. Retrieved July 27, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2870600053.html

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