The Roland-Garros tournament, also known as the French Open, is considered by many as the most challenging tennis tournament of them all. The tournament begins each year at the end of May and lasts for two weeks. It is considered to be physically challenging mainly for two reasons; the clay surface of the courts and the system in which there are no tie breakers on the final set.The Roland-Garros tournament, also known as the French Open, is considered by many as the most challenging tennis tournament of them all.
The tournament begins each year at the end of May and lasts for two weeks. It is considered to be physically challenging mainly for two reasons; the clay surface of the courts and the system in which there are no tie breakers on the final set. The clay surface (which is actually a mixture of layers of limestone, clinker and brick powder) slows down the ball and the game and diminishes the effect of strong serves. As a result, less games are defined by aces and games and sets last for longer times.
The tournament began in 1891 with men's single matches. In 1897 the women's singles were added. The mixed doubles event was added in 1902, the women's doubles in 1907 and the male doubles was added only in 1925.
Until 1925 only French players had played the tournament, in that year it opened for foreigner players, making it an international event.
In 1928 the tournament started being played in a new venue which became a home for the tournament until today. The owner of the land insisted that the venue would be named after the Roland Garros - a deceased French aviation pioneer and national hero who was also an amateur tennis player. Ever since, the name of the venue became synonymous with the tournament itself.
In 1968 the tournament opened its doors to all international professional or amateur players, thus, making it an open tournament.
The tournament's history is full with great moments and great players. In the open era of the tournament (since 1968) dominant male players have been : Björn Borg (with 6 wins), Iven Lendl (with 3 wins), Mats Wilander (with 3 wins, first win as an unseeded player at the age of 17), Gustavo Kuerten (with 3 wins, first one as an unseeded player) Jan Kodeš, Sergi Bruguera and Jim Courier (all three with 2 consecutive wins).
But the uncontested winner of titles is the current title holder, Rafael Nadal which has won it 9 times (between 2005-2014) and became the hero of the Roland-Garros tournament. Although in the history of the tournament some great French players such as Henri Cochet , René Lacoste, Max Decugis and others, have dominated the tournament, the last male French player to win it was Yannick Noah (1983).
In the women's winners outstanding players are Steffi Graf (with 6 wins in a 12 years period), Justine Henin (with 4 wins), Arantxa Sánchez Vicario (with 3 wins), Margaret Court (with 5 wins 3 of them in the open era), Monica Seles, which is also the youngest player to win the title at the age of sixteen (with 3 consecutive wins), Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams and current the title holder Maria Sharapova (all three with 2 wins).
The 'queen' of the tournament is Chris Evert which won the title 7 times (between 1974-1986).
Suzanne Lenglen with 6 wins in the 1920s is the most successful French female player, she was honored in 1994 with titling the secondary court at the venue after her. The last French player to win the female's title was Mary Pierce (in 2000).
When counting also the doubles and the mixed titles then Martina Navratilova is the champion of titles with 11 wins to her name. The Courts The current Roland Garros venue covers 8.5 hectares of land and has 20 courts. The main court (Chatrier), was built in 1928 for the Davis Cup games between France and the USA. Its current capacity is of 14,840 seats. The Lenglen court with a 10,068 seats capacity and Court 1 with a 3,800 are the next ones in size.
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