Le Ping-Pong

This might just be the most unexpected “sports” image that I’ve come across in my exploration of early French women’s magazines– upper class women playing ping pong in their home in 1902. Of course, these aren’t just any women– they are Yvonne and Marie-Louise de Pfeffel,  French ping ping champions. That’s right– long before Venus and Serena, there were sister (table) tennis stars  lighting up the Paris circuit!

The accompanying article explains the origins of the game’s “pretty name”  (from the agreeable sound the balls make, “akin to that of javanese gongs”), as well as its simple rules. Not quite as sporty as tennis, its older brother, notes the journalist, le ping-pong has many advantages, namely, that it is weather-proof. Most importantly, with its simple grace, it is “a truly lovely game for young women and girls.”