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String Theory

Photograph By Dan Winters for ESPN The Magazine

Babolat is best known today for its rackets, but strings have been its specialty for longera lot longer. Founder Pierre Babolat got his start selling strings for musical instruments in France in 1875 but later switched to tennis, and Babolat remained primarily a stringing company for more than a century. In 2005 it released the Babolat Star 5, which remains the company's best-selling racket-stringing machine.