The Internationaux de France or Tournoi de Roland Garros or simply Roland Garros by metonymy, is a tennis tournament on clay created in 1925 and held annually since 1928 in Paris, in the Roland Garros stadium. It succeeds the French Championship created in 1891. Organized by the French Tennis Federation (FFT), it takes place in the last week of May and the first week of June. It is one of the four tournaments of the Grand Slam, the second in the calendar after the Australian Open in January. This is followed by the Wimbledon tournament, the last week of June and the first week of July, then the US Open in August. In the predominantly English-speaking world of tennis, the tournament has also been known as the French Open since 1968, the first year of the Open era.

The French Open tennis tournament is the biggest tennis tournament of the clay court season and the last Grand Slam tournament to be played on this surface since the US Open abandoned it in 1978. Many players from regions of the world where tennis is played mainly on clay, such as Latin America or Southern Europe, see Roland-Garros as the most important event of the year. Played on a slow surface with no tie-break in the final round, the tournament is sometimes considered to be the toughest tennis tournament in the physical realm.

The record for victories in singles, men and women combined belongs to Rafael Nadal who won in the final twelve times between 2005 and 2019. This record is also that of all the Grand Slam tournaments, since this one exists.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic in Europe, the 2020 edition of the tournament is postponed to September instead of May, a first in tournament history. First postponed from September 20 to October 4, if the health situation allows, it should be held from September 27 to October 11.


France Championship international tennis

First editions

The first edition of the “French international tennis championship” was held in Paris in 1891. It is organized by the Union of French athletic sports companies on the courts of the Racing Club de France. The courts are grass courts The French tennis championships are reserved, until 1924 inclusive, for French and foreign players licensed in French clubs. The tournament was held alternately at the Racing club de France and Stade Français facilities until 1927. The first tournament is played over one day, there are only five participants (including the Peruvian Carlos de Candamo). The Briton H. Briggs, licensed at the Stade Français, won in the men's singles tournament, the only tournament contested. Three participants meet to win the first women's tournament in 1897, Adine Masson wins. In 1902, the mixed doubles tournament was created, that of ladies' doubles in 1907. In 1912, the world championships on clay were created, at the initiative of the tennis ball manufacturer and patron Duane Williams to favor land players who are disadvantaged on the grass of Wimbledon. This tournament overshadows the French tennis championships because it allows all players licensed or not in France to participate. The tournament disappeared in 1923, in 1924 it was the Olympic tournament in Paris that took its place. In 1925 the French Championship disappears. The French Open tennis tournament can begin. In the newspaper Le Figaro of May 24, 1925, we can read: "The International Championships of France which replace the World Championships on clay will be played”.

Early men's tournament 

For the second edition in 1892, Jean Schopfer became the first Frenchman to win the French championship. Jean Schopfer was a finalist in 1893, losing to Laurent Riboulet. André Vacherot is the winner of the 1894, 1895 and 1896 editions. From 1897 to 1900, Paul Aymé won the tournament four times in a row. In 1901, the first edition of the xx th century, André Vacherot beats Paul Lebreton who fails a third time in the final. The brother of four-time winner André Vacherot, Michel Vacherot, won the tournament in 1902 against Max Decugis before he won the competition many times. In 1903, Max Decugis dominated André Vacherot. The same two players meet in the final the following year and the result is the same. In 1905 and 1906, Maurice Germot dominated the competition. Decugis triumphs again in 1907, 1908 and 1909, this latest edition is being played in Bordeaux. The tournament settled permanently in Paris in 1910. Germot obtained a third title in 1910 after beating François Blanchy in the final. He reached the final again in 1911 but André Gobert won the match and his first French championship. Max Decugis won the tournament three more times in 1912, 1913 and 1914. It deprives André Gobert, Georges Gault and Jean Samazeuilh of the last titles of the pre-war period.

From Masson to Broquedis, the first winners

Adine Masson won, in 1897, 1898 and 1899, the first three editions of the ladies' singles tournament. She won the first final against M P. Girod with the score 6-3, 6-1. The only competitor in the running, she is champion of the next two editions without playing. In 1900, Hélène Prévost became the second woman to win the tournament. Girod, finalist of the first edition, won the tournament in 1901 against Leroux. Already triple winner, Adine Masson won the tournament twice again in 1902 and 1903 against Girod then Kate Gillou Fenwick. Gillou Fenwick took his revenge against Masson in the following edition before winning the title two more times against Yvonne de Pfeffel in 1905 and then against the British Virginia MacVeagh in 1906, the first foreigner to reach the final. The Countess of Kermel wins the 1907 tournament, beating Catherine d'Aliney d'Elva in the final. Kate Gillou Fenwick won her fifth and last title in 1908 against A. Péan. Jeanne Matthey exceeds the record of consecutive victories of Adine Masson, who won the tournament three editions in a row from 1897 to 1899, by winning the tournament four times consecutively between 1909 and 1912. Double finalist in 1910 and 1911,Marguerite Broquedis took revenge in 1913, beating Jeanne Matthey in the final, ending her opponent's winning streak. For what will be the last pre-war edition, Borquedis confirms his victory by beating Suzanne Lenglen, aged 14 and a half, who becomes the first international tennis star after the First World War.

Transition and domination of Lenglen

The French international amateur tennis championship resumed in 1920. The winners of the pre-war editions are still present. In the 1920 final, André Gobert won his second title against Max Decugis in five sets. In 1921, the American Bill Tilden, world number one, played in Paris for the first time. He does not reach the final which opposes Jean Samazeuilh to the winner of the 1920 edition André Gobert, Samazeuilh wins the tournament. Jean Samazeuilh once again reached the final in 1922 but lost it against Cochet. In 1923, François Blanchy, thirty-seven, defeats Max Decugis (forty-one). This final is the last of Max Decugis, the end of a period in which he dominates French tennis. The beginning of the 1920s was marked by new players. In 1924, the last edition of the French championships took place. The courts of the Racing Club de France, at La Croix-Catelan, will host the last edition before the creation of the French Open. Two musketeers reach the final, Jean Borotra beats René Lacoste. The disappearance of the clay world championships launches the debate on the opening to foreign players. Finally, the decision was taken to open the tournament to foreign amateur players for the 1925 edition.

The early 1920s, a period of transition for men, was dominated by Suzanne Lenglen for women. From 1920 to 1923, Suzanne Lenglen won the tournament four times in a row. She won the tournament for the first time, after a victory in the final against Marguerite Broquedis who beat her in 1914. During the following three years, she beat Germaine Golding, on retirement in 1921, in two sets in 1922 and 1923. In 1924, Suzanne Lenglen, ill with jaundice, cannot participate in the tournament. Julie Vlasto wins the final against Jeanne Vaussard. Back in 1925, Lenglen won the tournament in 1925 and 1926, before going professional.

The International authoring France

In December 1924, the FFLT council decides to open the tournament to foreign players, with the exception of Germans and players from countries excluded from the International Federation. The first edition of the French Open was held on the grounds of the Stade Français, in the park of Saint-Cloud, in 1925. After the Four Musketeers of French tennis won the Davis Cup 1927, it was decided to build the Roland-Garros stadium to organize the revenge. The French Stadium cedes a three hectare site near the Porte d'Auteuil with the only condition that it bears the name of one of its members. The name of Roland Garrosis chosen by Emile Lesieur, President of the French Stadium and classmate of HEC of Roland Garros. Licensed at the French Stadium, Roland Garros had died ten years earlier for France, the October 5, 1918 shortly before the end of the First World War. He was an aviator famous for having been the first to successfully cross the Mediterranean Sea by air, in seven hours and 53 minutes. The stadium was inaugurated in 1928, we can only speak of a “Roland-Garros tournament” from 1928.

The Four Musketeers 

Henri Cochet is the first of four Musketeers to win the tournament since 1922, some years before the impressive series of victories of France in Davis Cup. He beats in the final of the tournament, still named the French International Amateur Tennis Championship, another Frenchman, Jean Samazeuilh. In 1924, two musketeers clash to win what is the last final of the French International Amateur Tennis Championship: Jean Borotra and René Lacoste, the first wins in five sets. In 1925 are created the Internationals of France. The first eight editions are won by one of the four Musketeers. In 1925, in Saint-Cloud, René Lacoste took his revenge against Jean Borotra and he dominated the final 7-5, 6-1, 6-4. Lacoste was largely beaten the following year by Henri Cochet who won his second title. After a close match, Lacoste defeated American Bill Tilden 6-4, 4-6, 5-7, 6-3, 11-9 in the 1927 final. The stands, which cannot then contain more than 5,000 spectators, are full. After four hours of play, Tilden leads 9-8 and 40/15 in the fifth set. On the first match point, Lacoste made a winning comeback. On the second, Tilden believes he is serving an acewhen the referee, Henri Cochet, shouts “Fault! ". Tilden, 34, accuses the blow. He loses the match on a double fault two games later. Following this French victory at Roland Garros, the French continued with success in the Davis Cup against the Americans in the United States after a final victory by Cochet over Johnson 14. In 1928, Cochet once again beat Lacoste. In the next edition, René Lacoste defeated Jean Borotra who narrowly failed to end the series of victories for Lacoste and Cochet. The 1930 editionis marked by the return to the final of William Tilden whom he lost this time against Cochet who won the tournament for the fourth time. In 1931, Jean Borotra won his first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros against Christian Boussus. In 1932, Henri Cochet won his fifth and last amateur victory against the Italian Giorgio De Stefani. In 1933, Australian John Crawford became the first foreigner to win the Amateur French Open by beating Henri Cochet.

New champions: Wills, Scriven, Sperling and Mathieu

For the first edition of the French Open for women, in 1925 as for the men, Suzanne Lenglen continued her domination over world tennis. By beating Kathleen McKane in straight sets 6-1, 6-2, she became the first winner of the French Open. The next edition was little different, Lenglen dominated the competition until one last big 6-1, 6-0 victory over Mary Kendall Browne. In 1927, Cornelia Bouman became the first foreigner to win the tournament since its creation in 1897. In the final, she beat another foreigner, Irene Bowder Peacock, by a score of 6-2, 6-4. The great tournament player in the late 1920sis without question Helen Wills. She is the first to have achieved the performance of winning the French Open three times in a row. His streak began in 1928 with a victory over Eileen Bennett in the final. The following year, she defeated Simonne Mathieu of France, who reached the first of her eight women's singles finals of the tournament. In 1930, Helen Wills won her third consecutive consecration against Helen Hull Jacobs. The 1931 edition escapes him and ends his series, Cilly Aussem takes advantage and beats Betty Nuthallfinally. Helen Wills won the tournament for the fourth and final time in 1932 after a victory against Simonne Mathieu who lost her second final. Mathieu will fail again in the final the following year against Margaret Scriven who won the tournament a second time in 1934. Hilde Krahwinkel Sperling managed between 1936 and 1938 to equal Wills' record by beating Simonne Mathieu three times in a row in the final. Mathieu, who then lost six finals (1929, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1936 and 1937), reached the final in 1938 for a seventh time, which she won against Nelly Adamson Landry. That year, she achieved a historic treble with the ladies' double and the mixed double. Simonne Mathieu won again in 1939 against Jadwiga Jędrzejowska for what will be the last final before a break imposed by World War II. Between 1933 and 1939, Simonne Mathieu won the ladies 'double tournament six times, failing only once in 1935. In 1934 and 1935, she won the tournament with Elizabeth Ryan, who won two more times the ladies' double tournament at Roland- Garros. In 1936, 1937 and 1938, she won it with Billie Yorke. In 1937 and 1938, she won the mixed doubles tournament with Yvon Petra then Dragutin Mitić. During her last victory in the competition in 1939, her partner was named Jadwiga Jędrzejowska, a singles finalist beaten by her doubles partner. The cup awarded to the winners of the French Open women's doubles is now called the Coupe Simonne Mathieu.

Before the war

After the domination of the four Musketeers, Gottfried von Cramm dominates on the clay of Roland-Garros. The German defeated John Crawford in 1934 in five sets. In the final the following year, he lost to Fred Perry before beating him in 1936. Germany was dominant in the mid -1940s. After the double victory of Gottfried von Cramm, Henner Henkel is favorite to represent Germany to von Cramm that is anti-Nazi, and took over in 1937 and won againstHenry Austin his first and only triumph at the French Open. In 1938, Donald Budge became the first player to achieve the Grand Slam. This means a victory in Paris against Roderich Menzel, third German in the final in three editions. The last pre-war edition will be a victory for the American William McNeill over the American Bobby Riggs.

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