Roland-Garros: 6 facts and anecdotes about the Paris tennis tournament

Published by Cécile de Sortiraparis, Graziella de Sortiraparis · Photos by Cécile de Sortiraparis · Published on May 7th, 2023 at 03:52 p.m.
Every summer for almost a century, Paris has become the tennis capital of the world with the French Open. You may follow this competition with enthusiasm, but do you know everything about this event? Here are some information and anecdotes to help you shine in the evening.

What could be more iconic than the clay courts of Roland Garros? These tennis courts have seen careers made and unmade, they have hosted the greatest champions of this discipline. This international tournament takes place every year between the last week of May and the first week of June. 15 days of intense competition that excites sports fans.

You may be following this new edition assiduously, hoping to see the Blues triumph, or supporting the favorites of the competition. These intense weeks are exciting, as are the small and big stories that have made the French Open famous. How about expanding your knowledge of this world-famous competition?

The Roland Garros tournament, also known as theFrench Open, was created in 1925. It has been held in Paris since 1928, in the Roland Garros stadium, located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris.

It is one of the four Grand Slam tournaments - also composed of the Australian Open, the Wimbledon tournament and the US Open. The French competition is named after theFrench aviator Roland Garros, who died in aerial combat in 1918, during the First World War. The pilot was a fellow student at the HEC school ofEmile Lesieur, president of the Stade français. To pay tribute to his friend, Emile Lesieur named the stadium, newly built, in his honor, during the inauguration, in 1928.

The stadium is indeed built between 1927 and 1928. It is created to welcome the final of the Davis Cup, largely dominated at that time by the French tennis team. They were called the Four Musketeers: Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet and René Lacoste monopolized the podiums between 1926 and 1932. The Roland-Garros stadium has gradually expanded and modernized, and today has 17 courts, with a capacity of up to 15,000 spectators on a single court.

The stadium also houses the Tennis Museum. Created in 2003, this unusual museum houses about 14,000 collectibles and documents, relating the history of the Roland Garros stadium, but also that of the French sport. You can admire the different outfits worn by athletes through the ages, discover the evolution of rackets and sports equipment, and especially contemplate the different cups awarded to the winners of the tournament.

There are five of them and they are described on the Roland-Garros website:

  • The Musketeers Cup is awarded to the winner of the men's singles since 1981 and pays tribute to the four Musketeers of French tennis: Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet and René Lacoste. The silver bowl is decorated with a vine leaf frieze at the top and has two swan neck handles. The trophy is mounted on a marble base bearing the names of the winners since the first edition.

  • The Suzanne Lenglen Cup has been awarded to the winner of the women's singles competition since 1979 and is named after an iconic French champion. Suzanne Lenglen (1899-1938) won the French Open six times. The modernity of her style, her elegance and her panache made her the inspiration for the Musketeers. The trophy is, apart from a few details, a replica of a cup offered at the time by the City of Nice to Suzanne Lenglen, kept at the National Museum of Sport.

  • The Jacques-Brugnon Cup is awarded to the winners of the men's doubles. A beautiful tribute to the musketeer Jacques Brugnon (1895-1978), a great specialist in this event in which he triumphed five times. Created in 1989, this trophy has appliques and its foot is decorated with ornaments in relief named godrons.

  • The Simonne-Mathieu Cup is awarded to the winning duo of the women's doubles. Created in 1990, this round trophy is decorated with two small swan-shaped handles and water leaf moldings. Simonne Mathieu (1908-1980) was a clay court specialist in the 1930s. She played eight times in the finals of the French Open in singles, winning twice, in 1938 and 1939, and also won eight titles in women's and mixed doubles. In 1940, Simonne Mathieu joined General de Gaulle in London and ended the war with the rank of captain.

  • Since 1990, the Marcel-Bernard Cup has been awarded to the winning mixed doubles team of the French Open. Oval in shape, the trophy has turned and added mouldings, a chiselled frieze and two handles. Its base is decorated with two turned moldings. This trophy was made in homage to Marcel Bernard (1914-1994) whose greatest feat was his triumph at Roland Garros in 1946. He was then president of the FFT from 1968 to 1973.

In addition to these cups, the most deserving participants receive a nice bonus, up to 2.2 million euros!

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Over the years, many athletes have been rewarded, and the French have no reason to be ashamed of their achievements. Before the Open era, which symbolizes the modern era of tennis, during which professional players are finally allowed to participate in Grand Slam tournaments, the French accumulated all the records: most titles in singles or doubles, most consecutive victories, longest match...

For several years now, these rankings and podiums have been monopolized by an international trio in the men's game: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic seem to be indestructible.

The last French players to have triumphed at Roland Garros were Yannick Noah in 1983 and Mary Pierce in 2000. Will this year 2022 bring us surprises?

Practical information


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