Chapter 01

1

History

Scroll
to explore
Roland Garros
The height of the Grand Slam
A SUCCESS STORY
The Davis Cup final at Roland Garros in July 1931.
Before it became the world event it is today, the tennis tournament was a modest affair. The popularity of such events grew considerably with the first final of the Davis Cup organised in Paris in 1928, where the “Four Musketeers” were playing. Let’s look at the history of a tournament that has the originality, among other things, of being named after a French aviator: Roland Garros.
The roots of the tournament: the French Championships
The French Tennis Championships were first held in 1891, on the initiative of the French Union of Athletic Sports Clubs. Organised in Paris on sand courts at the Racing Club de France, this first version of the championships was open only to men, of which five signed up. It was the British player H. Briggs, who had a French tennis licence, who won the only tournament, the men’s singles. In 1897 three women entered the first ladies’ championships, which were won by Adine Masson. The mixed doubles tournament was created in 1902 and the ladies’ doubles in 1907. The championships became more popular in 1903 when the winner was the charismatic Max Decugis, who drew crowds of spectators and the attention of the journalists. In the wake of this success, no fewer than 200 men entered for the 1908 championships, making the event the most important tournament in France. Nevertheless, the French National Stadium hosted the new world championships on its sand courts at La Faisanderie in the St. Cloud Park from 1912 on. Competition was fierce and the “little tournament” lost ground since it was open only to local players and foreigners that were members of French tennis clubs. With the abandonment of the world championships in 1923, the French Championship regained its popularity. But the focus was on avoiding the pitfalls of a too modest event. It must be said that the semifinals in 1924 drew the crowds, with Jean Borotra playing against Jacques “Toto” Brugnon and René Lacoste against Henri Cochet – four champions that were known as the Four Musketeers. In order to ensure that the event met their expectations, the Federation decided, in 1925, that from then on the French Championships would be open to the best foreign players, the event thus becoming the French International Tournament. The French National Stadium and the Racing Club de France took turns playing host.
Entrance to the Roland Garros stadium in 1933.
The Musketeers venture abroad
In 1927, Brugnon, Borotra, Cochet and Lacoste succeeded in winning the Davis Cup in the USA. For the revenge match in Paris in 1928, the event required a setting that matched its popularity. The French National Stadium liberated a site of 3 hectares near the Porte d’Auteuil for the construction of a new tennis stadium. The club insisted on only one condition, namely that the new stadium should be called after one of its former members: Roland Garros. Having died ten years earlier – on the eve of his thirtieth birthday – in aerial combat during the First World War, Garros was also a pioneer of aviation and was the first man to fly across the Mediterranean, on 23 September 1913. The new stadium was built during the winter of 1927-1928 and could hold 10,000 spectators. It was two young female players, Mrs Lafaurie and Miss Bennett, who had the honour of being the first players to use the brand-new centre court (sand) in a Franco-British match. The doubles matches of the French International Championships – the first to be held at the Roland Garros Stadium, started two days later. At the end of that summer, the Musketeers honoured the Stadium by retaining the Silver Bowl awarded to the winning team in the Davis Cup; the trophy would in fact stay in France until 1933. As a tribute to this glorious period in the history of French tennis, the trophy presented to the winner of the French Open has been known as the Musketeers’ Cup since 1927.
The post-war period: expansion and the golden age
The tournament was not held between 1940 and 1945 because of the Second World War, but would be re-instated in 1946. While the age of the Musketeers was over, it was still a French player, Marcel Bernard, who, against all expectations, won both the men’s singles and men’s doubles. This was a real surprise, since this 32-year old left-hander had been more or less forced to enter the competition by the referee in charge of the tournament, who was having problems finding a full complement of 64 players. This French victory would remain an exception for a long while, however. In the twenty years that followed, the Cup would be won thirteen times by Australians and Americans, including Frank Parker, Tony Trabert, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson to mention just a few. It was not until 1983 that a French man, namely Yannick Noah, would again hold aloft the winner’s trophy. The event once again flourished after the war. Since those days, Rafael Nadal (9 titles), Stefanie Graf or Björn Borg (6 titles each), Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander and Gustavo Kuerten (each 3 titles), among others, have gone down in the annals of a tournament whose reputation has continued to grow.
Match of the Davis Cup between André Merlin and Fred Perry, at Roland Garros, on July 31, 1933.
Tournament history
Table of winners
In 1999, Longines Ambassadors of Elegance Stefanie Graf (who won six French Open titles) and Andre Agassi have both held the prestigious French singles trophy.
Men's singles
Year
Women's singles
Ken Rosewall (AUS)
1968
Nancy Richey (USA)
Rod Laver (AUS)
1969
Margaret Smith-Court (AUS)
Jan Kodes (CZE)
1970
Margaret Smith-Court (AUS)
Jan Kodes (CZE)
1971
Evonne Goolagong (AUS)
Andres Gimeno (ESP)
1972
Billie-Jean King (USA)
Ilie Nastase (ROM)
1973
Margaret Smith-Court (AUS)
Björn Borg (SWE)
1974
Chris Evert (USA)
Björn Borg (SWE)
1975
Chris Evert (USA)
Adriano Panatta (ITA)
1976
Sue Barker (GBR)
Guillermo Vilas (ARG)
1977
Mima Jausovec (YUG)
Björn Borg (SWE)
1978
Virginia Ruzici (ROM)
Björn Borg (SWE)
1979
Chris Evert-Lloyd (USA)
Björn Borg (SWE)
1980
Chris Evert-Lloyd (USA)
Björn Borg (SWE)
1981
Hana Mandlikova (CZE)
Mats Wilander (SWE)
1982
Martina Navratilova (USA)
Yannick Noah (FRA)
1983
Chris Evert-Lloyd (USA)
Ivan Lendl (CZE)
1984
Martina Navratilova (USA)
Mats Wilander (SWE)
1985
Chris Evert-Lloyd (USA)
Ivan Lendl (CZE)
1986
Chris Evert-Lloyd (USA)
Ivan Lendl (CZE)
1987
Stefanie Graf (GER)
Mats Wilander (SWE)
1988
Stefanie Graf (GER)
Michael Chang (USA)
1989
Arantxa Sanchez (ESP)
Andres Gomez (ECU)
1990
Monica Seles (YUG)
Jim Courier (USA)
1991
Monica Seles (YUG)
Jim Courier (USA)
1992
Monica Seles (YUG)
Sergi Bruguera (ESP)
1993
Stefanie Graf (GER)
Sergi Bruguera (ESP)
1994
Arantxa Sanchez (ESP)
Thomas Muster (AUT)
1995
Stefanie Graf (GER)
Yevgeny Kafelnikov (RUS)
1996
Stefanie Graf (GER)
Gustavo Kuerten (BRA)
1997
Iva Majoli (CRO)
Carlos Moya (ESP)
1998
Arantxa Sanchez (ESP)
Andre Agassi (USA)
1999
Stefanie Graf (GER)
Gustavo Kuerten (BRA)
2000
Mary Pierce (FRA)
Gustavo Kuerten (BRA)
2001
Jennifer Capriati (USA)
Albert Costa (ESP)
2002
Serena Williams (USA)
Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP)
2003
Justine Henin (BEL)
Gaston Gaudio (ARG)
2004
Anastasia Myskina (RUS)
Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2005
Justine Henin (BEL)
Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2006
Justine Henin (BEL)
Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2007
Justine Henin (BEL)
Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2008
Ana Ivanovic (SER)
Roger Federer (SUI)
2009
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2010
Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2011
Na Li (CHN)
Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2012
Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2013
Serena Williams (USA)
Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2014
Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI)
2015
Serena Williams (USA)
Novak Djokovic (SRB)
2016
Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP)
Summary
Magazines