50+ Amazing Tennis Facts about the French Open, Roland Garros in Paris

by: TennisMood May 31, 2017 841

50+ Amazing Tennis Facts about the French Open, Roland Garros in Paris

Being one of the four Grand Slam events, the French Open is one of the most famous tournaments on the sporting calendar, as well as world’s most broadcasted tennis championships.

We present you almost complete collection of the top interesting French Open facts: lesser known facts about courts, history facts everyone should know, incredible results, best quotes, latest records, fascinating infographics and much more in our article…

10 History French Open Facts everyone should know!

Fact 1 – One of the oldest… .

110 years old – is the age of the French Open. Originally launched in 1891 as a national championship, it was available only for males to participate and only after six years, in 1897 women were permitted to perform in the championship and in 1925 the tournament got the international status.

Fact 2 – It’s not actually called “the French Open”…

In 1891 this French tournament was called the International Championship of Tennis. Currently, the name ‘French Open’ is more popular across the world. French call it ‘Roland Garros’ and till now we believe that it is the venue’s name!

Fact 3 – Roland Garros. Who he was?

Roland Garros is named after famous French aviator, a fighter pilot who was the first-ever to fly over the Mediterranean Sea. He was sent to fight on Western Front after World War I. He helped to invent and popularize the front-mounted machine gun, which was able to shoot through a plane’s propeller. Roland Garros, the I World War hero was also extremely passionate about tennis game. His name lives on in the Stade de Roland Garros. He often played tennis while he was a Parisian student.

Fact 4 – Stade de Roland Garros was built to defend

The home of the French Open, the stadium Roland Garros – was constructed in 1928 to host France’s first defense of the Davis Cup after they won it on American soil in 1927.

Fact 5 – Not the luckiest venue for French players…

Only two men and three women from France have ever won the single’s title in their home tournament. The last man was Yannick Noah in 1983. The last woman was Mary Piece in 2000.

Fact 6 – Grass could not survive

At the end of the 19th century, two tennis champions from Britain – William and Ernest Renshaw – had grass courts built in Cannes. However, the grass could not survive under the hot Mediterranean sun and the lines faded. The brothers decided to cover the courts in a soft powder of pounded terracotta pots produced locally. In such way, the clay court came into existence.

Fact 7 – It’s here to stay… in Paris!

From the very 1891, Roland Garros has been held every year, except from 1939-1945, when it was canceled due to World War II. But unofficial French Open tournaments did take place. They were seen by many as being vitally important for French morale. In fact, it played a great role in the French way of life and keeping of their spirits high. During that time only French players were allowed to compete. There were numerous discussions about moving the tournament to another venue, but it was certain that the tournament will stay in Paris.

Fact 8 – The most difficult Tournament of the Grand Slams

Roland Garros Tournament is the most physically exacting tennis tournament in the world. Mostly because of five-set men’s singles matches without a tiebreak in the final set and because of the slow-playing surface. The French Open is the only Grand Slam tournament played on clay courts. Balls fly higher and slower meaning players require great stamina to keep up with play. Due to the slow surface, French Open is the most physically demanding tennis tournament in the world. Clay courts also take away some of the advantages. Big serves and serve-and-volleys, which makes it hard for serve-based players to dominate on this surface. Some extremely talented players with the game’s best serves have failed to win at the French Open for this reason.

Fact 9 –Small court, but is the world…

The size of Rolland Garros is not even half that of other three Grand Slams venues – Australian Open, US Open and Wimbledon Championships. But this tournament is leading to major renovations being done to the grounds by 2016.

Fact 10 – Equal terms

French Championships became Open tournament and the very first Grand Slam tournament for both amateurs and professionals was held in 1968. This meant all of the players could compete on equal terms. In 2015 the 2 winners of the Roland Garros men’s and women’s singles events received equal French Open prize money: 1.8 million euros each one. That’s an increase of over 9 percent in prize money from 2014.

Who won the French Open? Incredible results

  • The longest uninterrupted match ever played at Roland Garros was the match won by Paul-Henri Mathieu against John Isner in 2012.
  • The shortest final ever played at Roland Garros was 1926 Suzanne Lenglen won the women’s French Open in 27 minutes.
  • Roland Garros has had 5 unseeded winners of singles events. Marcel Bernard (1946), Mats Wilander (1982), Gustavo Kuerten (1997), Gaston Gaudio (2004), and Margaret Scriven (1933).
  • Born Borg has won the French Open tennis tournament championship for men’s single a record six times.
  • Althea Gibson became the first African American woman. She won the French Open Ladies Single’s title in 1956. She also won the doubles title that year, and she is the first African-American woman who won the Wimbledon as well.
  • Yannick Noah was the first African American player to win the French Open single’s title in 1983.
  • Nadal dominates at French Open. The World’s top player has found huge success on this notoriously difficult surface. Last year’s champion, Rafa Nadal returns to the French Open with a very impressive track record – of the 39 matches he has played at the tournament he has won 38 – he has only ever lost 1 match at the French Open. What’s more, Nadal has never played a five-set match at the tournament.
  • French Open Youngest and Oldest Winners.

    The youngest winner of the tournament is Monica Seles. She beat Steffi Graff in the 1990 final at the age of 16 years and 6 months. Monica saved four set points in a first set tie-break, which she eventually won 8-6. She went on to win the final in straight sets, 7-6, 6-4.
    • In the 1989 final, 17-year-old Michael Chang became the youngest French Open champion by defeating world No. 1 Ivan Lendl (he served underhand during the match!)

    • The oldest woman who win the French Open is Zsuzsa Kormoczy from Hungary in 1958 at the age of 33 years. Zsuzsa’s win came before the Open Era of the Tournament, she was an amateur playing against only amateurs. This victory was the only Grand Slam title of her career.
    The record for being the oldest male champion in French Open holds Spaniard Andres Gimeno. He was 34 years and 10 months old when he won at Roland Garros in 1972.

    Best of the Best French Open Champions.

    Rafael Nadal
    Rafael Nadal was apparently born to win the French Open. He is in full harmony with championship and clay so much, that he reached the inconceivable, improving on the 6 titles won by the legendary Björn Borg.
    • 70 wins, two defeats.
    • Nine titles (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014). He has also won the Australian Open once (2009), Wimbledon twice (2008 and 2010) and the US Open twice (2010 and 2013).
    • 11 participations at Roland Garros prior to 2016. The first in 2005, the year of his first title.
    • 55 matches played on Centre Court (the first in 2005 against Xavier Malisse)
    • Notable wins over Roger Federer (semi-final in 2005, and 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011 finals), Novak
    Djokovic (quarter-final in 2006, semi-finals in 2007, 2008, and 2013, and the 2012 and 2014 finals), Andy Murray (semi-finals in 2011 and 2013)

    Chris Evert

    With 72 wins and just 6 defeats, 9 finals and 7 titles between 1974 and 1986, Chris Evert’s success rate in Paris is second to none in the modern era.
    • 72 victories, 6 defeats.
    • Seven titles (1974, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985 and 1986) and two finals (1973 and 1984). Chris Evert also won the Australian Open twice (1982 and 1984), Wimbledon three times (1974, 1976 and 1981) and the US Open six times (1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1982).
    • 13 participations. The first in 1973 and the last in 1988 at age of 33.
    • 43 matches played on Centre Court (first in 1973 in the second round against Hideko Goto).
    • Notable wins over Françoise Dürr (semi-final in 1973). Martina Navratilova (1975, 1985 and 1986 finals), Hana Mandlikova (quarter-final in 1983 and semi-final in 1986).

    Helen Wills

    Along with Suzanne Lenglen, who defeated her 6-3, 8-6 in their only ever meeting (in Cannes in 1926 in front of a media throng), Helen Wills was the greatest name in women’s tennis from the first half of the 20th century.
    • 19 wins, 0 defeats, 0 sets conceded.
    • Four titles (1928, 1929, 1930 and 1932). She also won eight titles at Wimbledon (1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1935 and 1938) and seven at Forest Hills (1923, 1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1931).
    • Five participations (the first in 1926 in the second year of the French Internationals, but two years before the stadium was built)
    • 15 matches played on Centre Court (the first on 26 May 1928, eight days after the inauguration of the stadium, against Marcou of France).
    • Notable wins over Cilly Aussem. Round of 16 in 1928 and semi-final in 1930. Simonne Mathieu (1929 and 1932 finals), Hilde Sperling (semi-final in 1932).

    5 lesser known french open facts of Roland Garros courts

    1. Clay is not actually clay… . Roland Garros is the only one ‘clay court’ tournament of the 4 Major of the season, the playing surface isn’t made of clay. It’s three inches of white limestone, and such distinctive cinnamon colour comes from a powdering of red brick dust. Underneath the limestone lies six inches of volcanic rock. On top of a meter-deep layer of sand. About one ton of red brick dust is needed to cover an average clay court.

    2. The Roland-Garros centre court named in honour of Philippe Chatrier, which has more space than usual behind the baseline, requires 1.5 tonnes of dust.
    3. How white lines appear on clay? The lines are marked out with thread and scraped to 6cm wide, down to the limestone layer. Thin coat of linseed oil is first applied for better adherence and then two coats of white paint are applied.

    4. Daily Court`s Routine:

  • Every morning: uncover the courts, sweep the lines;
  • During the matches, between each set: check the net, sweep the lines;
  • At the end of each match: check the net, sweep the lines, water the courts;
  • Every evening: water the courts.
  • News about French Open 2016

    • Despite the gloomy weather conditions at 2016 French Open the outfits on the court have brightened up fans’ moods. That year Adidas decided to dress its athletes in zebra print.
    roland garros apparel

    • Due to the event of French Open 2016, the designer Nial Smith unveiled the set “Lesser-Known Tennis Masterpieces by well-known French Artists”: he draws players of Roland-Garros 2016 in paintings of remarkable masters.


    • Novak Djokovic completes his Grand Slam set and becomes the first man since 1969 to simultaneously hold all four major titles after winning his first title at Roland-Garros 2016.

    Who Said that? The most interesting quotes from French Open.

    Here is a collection of some of the best and most interesting French Open quotes of the day that will surely brighten up your mood:

    Not just a goal, but a dream:
    “If I end my career without a Roland-Garros trophy, I’ll consider it a failure. I have goals for every other tournament. For Roland-Garros, I have a dream.” – Gaël Monfils, World № 16.

    Good reputation is recovered:
    “Yesterday evening my five-year-old son said to me: ‘When it’s doubles, you win cups. When it’s singles, you lose all the time.’ I’m happy that back home tonight I can say ‘I won this one’.”- said Nicolas Mahut, Doubles US Open champion after winning his first round in Singles in Paris
    Never back down:
    “If it doesn’t happen, there is always another year. I don’t have any intention of slowing down yet.”
    – Novak Djokovic, three-time Roland Garros runner-up about his elusive French Open title
    When failures give you a lesson:
    “The road to success is not straightforward. It definitely has some curves and some bumps and I’ve learned that first-hand. It’s the way life is as well, and you have to be able to take the bad with the good. I learned a lot more from the bad than the good.”- Eugenie Bouchard, World № 48.

    When Rogers’ dreams come true:
    “I always dreamed it would happen but I’m not sure I thought it could.”
    – Shelby Rogers, World No. 108, on reaching her first Grand Slam quarter-final.
    When you have a long-lasting career:
    “Sometimes I do think about some players, and I’m like, ‘Wow, I played them and now they’re coaching and they have grandkids.” – Serena Williams on her retirement.
    Global audience:
    “The French sporting event with the biggest global audience.” – Bertrand Pulman, emeritus sociologist, about Roland Garros tennis tournament.
    Stop is not yet a retirement:
    “So Roland Garros announced my retirement, but I didn’t. So you can stand up all of you and go back to work in the office because I didn’t say that. I will announce when I will want to stop.”- 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone.

    The vegan World No. 1:
    “Vegan with eating a little bit of fish here and there.”- Novak Djokovic revealing his new eating habits.
    To get gold:
    “Who needs ranking points if you’re playing for a gold medal? Gotta get your life in perspective. I’m trying to get gold, I don’t need any points.”- Venus Williams on what should be awarded for playing in Olympics.
    When being old is okay.
    “It’s the only time when being old is okay.”- 37-year-old Ivo Karlovic on becoming the oldest man since Jimmy Connors in 1991 US Open to reach the third round of a Grand Slam.
    Yourself improvement:
    “I said to everyone after the match, I was like, Jeez, I can’t remember being so happy to win third round. Yeah, it means a lot.”- said Samantha Stosur. World №16 on beating Lucie Safarova, who has always been a very difficult opponent for her during the whole career.
    When you leave no chance for death threats:
    “It’s nice because it’s private for me. I haven’t put my name out there, so it’s just my friends. The fact that people can’t write death threats to me after matches feels really good.”- Madison Keys on Snapchat.

    Olympics should be a goal:
    “I cannot understand people who don’t want to go. The Olympics is the most important event in sport. If you don’t want to be at the most important event in sport, it’s difficult to understand the motivation for anything else.”- Nine-time winner Rafael Nadal is confused seeing so many top players not participating at the Olympics.

    Talking about the favorite Roland-Garros moment ever

    Bertrand Milliard (journalist and commentator for Eurosport)
    “My favorite memory dates back to 1989. It was a match between Ivan Lendl, ranked number one worldwide at the time. And his opponent Michael Chang, who was all of 17. Towards the end of the match, Chang was cramping up, and to buy some time he started serving underhanded. In a match of this caliber, it was inconceivable. There was Chang, serving the way you would to a 10-year-old novice, and doing it center court at Rolland-Garros! Lendl was obviously stunned… and humiliated, and it completely derailed his game and he was so unnerved he ended up losing the match. That’s my highlight.”
    Rémi Bourrière (editor-in-chief of Tennis Magazine)
    “My magic moment is when Gustavo Kuerten won it in 2001, beating Alex Corretja in the final. It was a grueling see-saw battle and they were both dug in, but Kuerten emerged victoriously. The grandstands started to applaud him, and to thank them, he took his racket handle and drew a big heart in the clay, then lay down inside it. The crowd went nuts. Sweet.”

    French Open fun facts in numbers

    428,000 visitors – the average attendance since 2010.
    65,000 balls – the number of balls used from the first round to finals in all events.
    15,000 seats – the capacity of Philippe-Chatrier Court.
    10,000 spectators – the number that can be accommodated on Suzanne-Lenglen Court.
    8,700 people – the total number of permanent and temporary workers employed to ensure the smooth running of the tournament.
    5,465 bananas – the average number consumed by players during the tournament.
    1,300 journalists – the number of worldwide media representatives that come to the 16th region to cover the action.
    900 competitors – in the main draws.
    640 matches – the number of matches played throughout the two weeks.
    Фото №4
    341 minutes – the longest uninterrupted match ever played at Roland-Garros, won by Paul-Henri Mathieu against John Isner in 2012 (6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 18-16).
    250 ball boys and ball girls are chosen to take part. At Roland-Garros they go through the process of application and selection. There are some young boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 15 and at least 1.75 meters tall.
    116 million – the number of television viewers in China. They followed Li Na’s 2011 victory.
    32 minutes – the shortest final ever played at Roland-Garros between Steffi Graf and Natasha Zvereva in 1988, won by the German 6-0, 6-0.
    15 feet – the origins of scoring 15-30-40. It comes from the jeu de paume. Upon scoring a point, the player would move up 15 feet, with a second point, he gained another 15 feet (30 feet altogether); a third point got the player 40 feet away and, once at the net, the game over.
    15 years – the age Suzanne Lenglen became world tennis champion.
    9 French Open titles – the record number of men’s singles titles won here by Rafael Nadal.
    7 French Open titles – the record number of women’s singles titles won here by Chris Evert in 9 final appearances between 1973 and 1986.
    6 centimeters – width of white lines painted on clay courts.
    5 great champions – who never won the French Open. They are Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Martina Hingis and Jimmy Connors.
    4 Mousquetaires – Rene Lacoste, Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon and Henri Cochet. In their honor, the men’s singles trophy is named.
    3-kilogram jars – of Nutella at Roland-Garros’s iconic crepe stalls
    1.5 tons – The amount of Terre battue required to cover the Roland-Garros Centre Court
    1-2 millimeters – The depth of red-brick dust that gives the clay courts their distinctive surface
    1 Adriano Panatta – The only champion who managed to beat Bjorn Borg at Roland-Garros, and he did so twice in 1973 and 1976. Panatta will present the Coupe des Mousquetaires to the men’s singles winner today.

    More information about Roland Garros Tournament.

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