As the historical tennis match begins this week, we wanted to give you a brief glimpse into the history of the Roland Garros tennis tournament. Established in 1925, Roland Garros, also known as the French Open, is the second tournament in a calendar year of the four Grand Slam tournaments, and the only one to be played on clay. It is considered the second most prestigious tennis tournament in the world after Wimbledon, and has a very large audience and global media coverage.
The French Open was first held in Paris in 1891 at the Stade Français. Far from the international event that it is today, the original tournament was only open to male members of French tennis clubs. Women had to wait 6 years to compete, while foreign players were not allowed to take part for 34 years. The event was held in the Roland Garros Stadium for the first time in 1928.
Roland Garros was an aviator and fighter pilot who escaped from a prisoner of war camp during WW1. So you may be wondering why the Stadium was named after him if he isn’t an gifted tennis player himself. When the Stade Français handed over the land that is the current Stadium to the French Tennis Federation to construct the courts, it was on the condition that the new stadium be given the name of one of the Stade Français’s illustrious former members. They chose to honor Roland Garros, the first man to fly over the Mediterranean.
This grand slam tennis tournament involves many events, including junior events and wheelchair tennis. The most watched events include the Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Ladies’ Doubles and the Mixed Doubles. The biggest star of the French Open to date is the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who won the Men’s Singles for the eighth time in 2013, making him one of the most successful players in the history of the tournmanet. 2013 was also the year that Serena Williams won the Women’s Singles at the French Open for the second time.