History of Roland Garros

The French Open tennis tournament, which was created in 1925, has started yesterday. This is great! It is a real pleasure to see once again the best players in the world competing against each other. I am always impatient to be in May and follow some of the matches. Personally, I have been following this tournament for decades, although I have been to Roland-Garros only once, in 2005. It is a wonderful souvenir.

At first, the tournament did not take place in the current stadium. The complex was built in 1928 as the next international tennis tournament was going to take place in Paris after the victory of the "Mousquetaires" (the "Musketeers") in the 1927 Davis Cup. There was no tennis complex big enough to welcome the event so a new one had to be built.

A stadium was found in the 16th district ("arrondissement") of Paris. Its name was Roland-Garros. 

Roland Garros was a French aviator who was passionate about tennis and was playing in a club. He died during World War I. He was an old friend of Emile Lesieur, one of the men in charge of building the new stadium, so Lesieur asked that the tournament would also be named after his friend. Here is a photo of Roland Garros.

Did you say the "Mousquetaires", Erica? Who were the "Mousquetaires"? 

The Mousquetaires were four fantastic French tennis players who won six times the Davis Cup between 1927 and 1932 as a team, and also did very well individually. They were heroes at the time.

This is why the huge (and probably quite heavy) trophy that is given to the male winner at the end of the French Open is called (has been called since 1981) "La Coupe des Mousquetaires" (The Musketeers' Cup).

The image below shows the French President Gaston Doumergue surrounded by the four Musketeers in October 1927.

The four "Mousquetaires" were (in alphabetical order): 

- Jean Borotra. Does this name ring a bell to you? (+)
- Jacques BrugnonWhat about this one, then? (+)
- Henri Cochetmaybe? (+)

What if I tell you that René Lacoste's nickname at the time was... "the Crocodile"?
René Lacoste invented the tennis ball machine.

Nowadays, Roland-Garros, which starts in the second week of May, is one of the four major international tennis tournaments of the Grand Slam (Grand Chelem in French), with the Australian Open in Melbourne (January), Wimbledon in England (June/July) and the US Open in Flushing Meadow (end of August). 

All the greatest legends of tennis have played in the French Open, and of course in all of the four great Grand Slam tournaments. 

Here are all the men's results from the creation of the tournament until 2013.

And now all the women's results. You will notice the name of Suzanne Lenglen, who was a great player in the 1920s. One of the recent (1994) tennis courts in Roland-Garros is named after her.

The cup which is given to female winners has been called, since 1979, la Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.

The tournament was cancelled between 1940 and 1945, when France was occupied by the Nazis. 

There would be many anecdotes to tell about the French Open, but I will mention only one : in  1983, the American space shuttle Enterprise, which was invited in Paris for the annual Air Show in the former airport of Le Bourget, flew over the Central stadium of Roland Garros, at the time John McEnroe was playing!

If you are visiting Paris, do not forget to visit the Museum of Roland-Garros in the stadium. It is extremely interesting. 

Stade Roland Garros, 2 avenue Gordon Bennett, 75016 Paris, France.

To follow the results, please visit the official website.

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