A Look Back at the French Open

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This weekend the French Open, affectionately known as Roland Garros, will draw to a close and new champions will emerge.  In honor of the occasion, here is some history about the tournament, which notably was the only Grand Slam where Arthur Ashe did not win a singles title (he won the doubles in Paris with Marty Riessen in 1971).

The tournament’s history stretches back to 1891 when it was only for competitors from French clubs. The women’s singles title debuted six years later. In 1924 they eliminated the French club member requirement and soon after in 1928 relocated the competition to the recently completed Stade de Roland Garros, named after a French World War I pilot. It became the first “Open” Grand Slam in 1968.

Rafael Nadal holds the gentlemen’s record for singles titles with 9 wins and Chris Evert holds the ladies’ with 7 wins. Yannick Noah, who Arthur met as a young boy in the Cameroons, is only French man to have won the tournament since 1946. It is also the only Grand Slam tournament played on clay, which slows down the ball and produces a higher bounce.

Who will have their name etched on the trophy plate, taking home the prestige, silver (replica) trophy and $1.9 million dollar purse? Tune in this Saturday to watch Lucie Safarova and Serena Williams face off in the women’s singles championship and Sunday, when either Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray will battle Stanislas Wawrinka for the men’s. 


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