With the French Open, otherwise known as Roland Garros, having just finished and proving yet again to be more than just a great tournament played on clay courts. It is in fact, a great Grand Slam tournament that’s steeped in tradition and history dating back over a century. Since it’s humble beginnings, it has become one of the biggest tournaments in the world, attracting players from all over the globe. Here are a few facts about the French Open that not everyone knows about.
Starting out as a club sport it was in 1891 that the French Championships first began with members of French tennis clubs being the only players allowed to enter the tournament. Then in 1925, amateurs from every country were permitted to compete for the very first time.
In 1928 the Roland Garros Stadium was built so that France could defend the 1927 Davis Cup. Roland Garros was a French aviator and combat pilot who was shot down during World War One, he was also the first French pilot to make a solo flight across the Mediterranean Sea and as such the stadium was name in his honour.
For a very short time the French Open was held after Wimbledon as it was the third grand slam tournament to be held in the tennis calendar with the Australian Open being the first and Wimbledon being the second in both 1946 and 1947.
Roland Garros was the first Grand Slam tournament in which both amateurs as well as professional tennis players, were allowed to enter when the rule that barred professionals from playing was lifted back in 1968.
Over the years, very few French players have actually won Roland Garros with Yannich Noah being the last man to take the men’s single in 1983. In fact, since WWII only three French women players and two French men players have won the singles title at the French Open.
The men’s singles trophy is called La Coupe des Mousquetaires which translated means The Musketeers Trophy and is named after the four famous French Musketeers, four French tennis players who won the 1927 Davis Cup for France. The actual trophy weighs 14 kilos and each championship gets to take home with them a replica of the original which is made out of a solid sheet of silver.
The women’s singles trophy, which is called La Coupe Suzanne Lenglen is named after one of the most famous French tennis stars ever. Suzanne Lenglen won 12 singles titles, 11 doubles and 8 mixed during the time she competed in the French championships, Wimbledon as well as the World Hard Court Championships.
Over the years an increase in attendance at the French Open, has meant that nearly half a million spectators turn out to watch this exciting tournament every year and these numbers are growing annually. Players enjoy playing on the clay courts and with the prize money being over a million dollars for both the men and women players, it goes without saying that the French Open is a very prestigious affair. The great thing about the tournament is that first round losers also get just under $24,000 each too!