The French Open or Roland Garros started out in 1891 as a national tournament, until in 1925 it opened its doors to foreign players and became Les internationaux de France de Tennis. That same year marked the 114th edition of the popular French tournament at Porte d’Auteuil, from May 19th to June 7th. Here are some anecdotes of the history of the tournament…
The Beginning of the Open Era
The Open Era, the period in contemporary tennis that opened its doors to both professionals and amateurs, began in 1968 in Paris, two months before the birth of the French Open. This international act was signed in the private rooms of the Automobile Club de France, in the Place de la Concorde. Roland Garros was the first Grand Slam tournament to become an Open, in May 1968, in the midst of the Paris student riots.
Roland Garros, who are you?
Roland Garros is not a tennis player from the 30’s. The world’s best known clay court tournament is named after an aviation pioneer missing in action in 1918, at the age of 30. He is known for his feats and specially for being the first person to cross the Mediterranean Sea by air on September 23rd, 1913. The tournament was named after him in 1928.
Roland Garros and History
The Stade Roland Garros has not always been synonymous with entertainment and sports. It was confiscated towards the end of 1939 and during WWII to serve as a detention center working hand in hand with the Santé Prison and the Vel ‘d’Hiv Roundup.
André Agassi’s Wig
When it came to light that Agassi had worn a wig during the 1990 tournament final, it instantly became one of the more comical chapters in the history of the French Open. He had wanted to hide his bald spot, and had opted for a wig. During the game, the wig started to detach to the point that he was having a hard time keeping it on his head. His brother had to rush out of the game to search for pins all over Paris in an effort to prevent the wig from coming off. A moment in time that is now part of the history of this Parisian tournament.
Marat Safin’s Pants
Marat Safin was a very unpredictable player. He is responsible for one of the most humorous moments in the history of the French Open, when he played against Spaniard Félix Mantilla in 2004. After a masterly drop shot, which left a dead ball on the Spanish side of the court, the Russian celebrated by pulling down his pants, causing the public and Félix Mantilla to break into laughter. He did however receive a penalty for misbehavior from the International Tennis Federation. But as usual, he just joked about it.
A Pink Clay Court for Women’s Day
On June 7th, 2012, Women’s Day in France, the tournament organizers at Porte d’Auteuil decided to cover Court 1 in bright pink clay in a nod to females. American Chris Evert, winner of seven titles on the Parisian clay unveiled the court, where two tournament events of the Women’s Legends were played on the pink clay.
Novak Djokovic and the Ball Boy
May 2014 and it starts to rain, interrupting the game between Novak Djokovic and Joao Sousa. Novak Djokovic realizes that a ball boy, umbrella in hand, is following from one side of the court to the other. What the ball boy could probably not foresee is that Novak Djokovic would then invite him to sit next to him, trade him his racket for the umbrella, and then gave him an isotonic drink (including a toast). One of those gestures that make Djokovic the most charismatic racket in the circuit.
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