The French Open and Roland-Garros go hand in hand.
The venue for the only clay-court grand slam is steeped in history having hosted the tournament since 1928.
Roland-Garros has played host to some epic matches over the years and has a unique origin story that is often overlooked.
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Why is it called Roland Garros?
Opened in 1928, Roland-Garros was built to preserve France’s tennis success with the country having won the Davis Cup the year prior.
Emile Lesueur, president of the Stade Francais at the time, requested the venue be named after his heroic former classmate Roland Garros, who had died during World War I in 1918.
Lesueur’s request was ultimately granted and the venue has been known as Roland-Garros ever since.
French spelling notably requires places or events named after a person to be hypenated.
Who was Roland Garros?
Despite forever being linked to a grand slam event, Garros had little tennis experience and instead played rugby and football as a child.
At the age of 21, the Frenchman fell in love with planes and just four years later in 1913 performed what’s believed to have been the world’s first flight across the Mediterranean.
During World War I, Garros put his obsession with planes to use and found a revolutionary way to equip a machine gun to them.
Garros enjoyed early success as a fighter pilot before being taken prisoner in 1915.
He would take three years to escape and despite being in poor health, opted to return to fighting nearly straight away.
A decision that was not too surprising considering he had the quote, ‘Victory belongs to the most persevering’, inscribed on his planes’ propellers.
Garros subsequently died in battle on October 5, 1918 but left behind an enduring legacy of innovation and determination.
Along with his French Open tribute, an airport on the French island of Réunion is also named after him.
Who has won the most titles at Roland Garros?
Rafael Nadal has won a record 14 French Open titles with five of those wins coming consecutively.
Chris Evert, meanwhile, has triumphed at Roland-Garros seven times, making her the most successful women’s singles player at the tournament.
Men’s singles winners in the Open era
|2003||Juan Carlos Ferrero|
Women’s singles winners in the Open era
|1998||Arantxa Sanchez Vicario|
|1994||Arantxa Sanchez Vicario|
|1989||Arantxa Sanchez Vicario|
|1972||Billie Jean King|