Who Was Roland Garros & Other Facts About the French Open

Roland Garros

Roland Garros was born October 6, 1888. He was a French aviation pioneer: On September 23, 1913, Roland Garros became the first man to fly a plane over the Mediterranean. He was also a fighter pilot during WWI and is credited with helping the eventual invention of interrupter gear. Garros was downed behind enemy lines and ended up a POW in Germany. He eventually escaped and rejoined the French Army, only to be shot down and killed on October 5, 1918, one day before his 30th birthday.

In 1927, Jacques "Toto" Brugnon, Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet and René Lacoste (the French Musketeers) won the Davis Cup in America. This was France's first ever title in this tournament and it set up a major rematch in 1928, in Paris. According to RolandGarros.com, “such a major sporting occasion required a stadium worthy of its stature, and so it was that the Stade Français handed over three hectares of land near Porte d'Auteuil to the French Tennis Federation. The only condition to the offer of land was that the new stadium should bear the name of one of Stade Français' most renowned former members, Roland-Garros, who had died some ten years earlier.”

So, in 1928, Roland Garros Stadium was built to  support France and the Musketeers, defend 1927 Davis Cup.

The Musketeers Trophy

The men's singles champion is presented with La Coupe des Mousquetaires (The Musketeers' Trophy), named for the aforementioned four Musketeers. Each men's champion receives a replica trophy. These replicas are made from a sheet of solid silver and take 100 hours to make.

h3>The Suzanne Lenglen Trophy
The women's singles champion is presented with the La Coupe Suzanne Lenglen. Suzanne Lenglen was a French tennis star who won a 12 singles titles, 11 doubles titles and 8 mixed doubles titles from 1914 to 1926. She also won two Olympic gold medals in 1920.

The Clay Courts

By now, most people know that the French Open is the only Grand Slam tournament played on clay. Clay courts can be difficult for players who aren't used to them: balls bounce higher and travel slower, which is compounded by the fact that moving on the softer clay can be more difficult.

10 More French Open Facts

  1. Between 1939 and 1945 the French Open was cancelled because of World War II.

  2. In 1897, Women’s singles were added.

  3. In 1925, the French Open expanded and opened to all the best foreign players.

  4. Only two men and three women from France have singles’ titles at the French Open. Mary Pierce was the last French person to win at Roland Garros in 2000.

  5. Rafael Nadal holds the most French Open men's singles titles. He's won 7 times: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012. Behind him is Bjorn Born with 6 wins: 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981. Both Nadal and Born have won four consecutive years in a row.

  6. Chris Evert is the woman with the most French Open wins. She's won the French Open seven times: 1974, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985, and 1986. Coming in second, with six wins, is Steffi Graf, who won in 1987, 1988, 1993, 1995, 1996, and 1999.

  7. The youngest female winner is Yugoslavian Monica Seles, who won in 1990 at the age of 16 years and 6 months.

  8. The youngest male winner is American Michael Chang, who was 17 years and 3 months old when he won in 1989.

  9. The Roland Garros Museum has over 100 tennis racquets dating back to 1950.

  10. The 1983 French Open winner, Yannick Noah from France, is the father of Joakim Noah, who currently plays in the NBA on the Chicago Bulls.

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