The name Yannick debuted in the U.S. baby name data in 1981, and usage jumped upward a few years later, in 1983:
- 1985: 30 baby boys named Yannick
- 1984: 26 baby boys named Yannick
- 1983: 30 baby boys named Yannick
- 1982: 8 baby boys named Yannick
- 1981: 9 baby boys named Yannick
- 1980: unlisted
- 1979: unlisted
Professional tennis player Yannick (pronounced yah-neek) Noah, who was born in France in 1960, spent his childhood in Cameroon, and was discovered as an 11-year-old by tennis great Arthur Ashe.
Yannick won the French Open in 1983, and he reached career-high rankings of World No. 3 in singles and World No. 1 in doubles during the summer of 1986. But he was certainly getting press in the U.S. earlier than that.
One article from mid-1980, for instance, noted that Yannick — at that time ranked #1 in France and #12 in the world — was still seen as an anomaly in tennis:
In the United States, Yannick Noah is still a novelty. When the Frenchman plays tennis here, spectators flock to his court. Passers-by, upon seeing him, also stop. Someday, Noah hopes, Americans will watch him because he is Noah, not because he is black.
The write-up reminded me of an earlier article about another idiosyncratic tennis player, Torben Ulrich.
Speaking of being idiosyncratic…Yannick Noah, after nearly two decades of pro tennis, switched tracks and became a singer. Since then, he has scored multiple #1 hits in both France and Belgium. (Here’s Yannick’s YouTube channel.)
Usage of the name Yannick — a diminutive of Yann, a French form of John — increased again in the 2010s thanks to one of Yannick Noah’s namesakes, football player Yannick Ngakoue (who pronounces his first name yah-nihk). It saw peak usage in 2016, the same year Ngakoue joined the NFL.
Do you like the name Yannick?
P.S. While playing football at the University of Maryland, Yannick Ngakoue had a teammate named Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil. He told one reporter, “It’s not confusing. It’s pretty funny, actually. I never knew somebody’s had my name. I thought my name was very unique.” A few years later, a similar situation occurred at the University of Pittsburgh with a pair of football players named Qadree and Quadree.
- “Noah Tired of Being Tennis Novelty.” Cincinnati Enquirer 17 Aug. 1980: C-1.
- Prewitt, Alex. “With goal-line interception, Yannick Ngakoue made his mark vs. Old Dominion.” Washington Post 11 Sept. 2013.
- Yannick Noah – Tennis Hall of Fame
- Yannick Noah – Wikipedia
- Yannick Ngakoue – Wikipedia
Image: Yannick Noah (Davis Cup) by Nationaal Archief under CC BY-SA 3.0 NL.