Open Era

The International Open

All editions from 1891 to 1967, all managed by the French Tennis Federation, were banned from officially professional players considered to be traitors to sportsmanship. At the same time, the latter organized their own professional French internationals from 1930 to 1968. After Wimbledon's decision to become open, Roland-Garros did the same. It is the start of the Open era.

In 1968, the FFT organized the first internationals of France open, that is to say open to amateurs and professionals. The latter confirmed their superiority in the first edition by monopolizing the four semi-finalist places in the men's singles. Roland-Garros is the first of the four Grand-Slam tournaments to become open.

For the first edition of the French Open, a total of 100,000 francs in prize money is expected, while the total revenue for the previous year does not exceed 300,000 francs, a financial risk highlighted by opponents of the open era. The 1968 edition was marked by a social and political event: May 68. The demonstrations multiply and the nights of violence follow one another in the Latin Quarter. The organizing committee decides to maintain the tournament. News from Paris and the lack of means of transport discourage foreign players from coming to play. There are 31 dropouts in the first round, and three other players prefer to go home in the second round. The final takes place on June 10and pits Ken Rosewall against Rod Laver. The two Australians face each other on an overwhelming central court. Rosewall won the final in four sets, and made the double by winning the men's doubles tournament with Fred Stolle. On the women's side, Nancy Richey won the singles tournament after a victory in the final against Ann Haydon-Jones. Finally, the first Roland-Garros open is a success for the tournament organizers. With 120,000 spectators, the tournament made 900,000 francs in revenue, three times more than the previous year.

The following year, Rod Laver won his second title against Ken Rosewall. In this year 1969, Rod Laver won his second Grand Slam. In 1970, Jan Kodeš put an end to Australian victories by winning the Musketeers Cup after a last victory in the final against the Yugoslav Željko Franulović. Players from Eastern Europe go far in the tables. In 1971, Jan Kodeš won a second consecutive victory against the Romanian Ilie Năstase. In 1972, Andrés Gimeno defeated the French Patrick Proisy. In 1973, Ilie Nastase wins the Roland-Garros tournament by beating the Yugoslav Nikola Pilic and becomes the first world number one in ATP.

The first women's edition of the Open era is won by American Nancy Richey against Ann Haydon-Jones. The Australian Margaret Smith Court marks the history of Roland-Garros by winning the tournament twice in 1969 and 1970 against Ann Haydon Jones then Helga Masthoff. Two Australians reached the Roland-Garros final for the first time in 1971. Evonne Goolagong and Helen Gourlay-Cawley clash and the first triumph. American Billie Jean King defeated Evonne Goolagong in 1972. The May 21, 1973, Margaret Smith Court wins the women's singles tournament one last time against American Chris Evert.

Swedish supremacy

Philippe Chatrier, then president of the FFT, banned from the tournament all the players who participated in the intervilles (American professional competition); the number 1 of the time, Jimmy Connors could not play the French Open and so began the Swedish supremacy in 1974 with Björn Borg who won his first Grand Slam tournament at Roland Garros. When he was 18 at the start of the tournament, he beats Spain's Manuel Orantes in five sets 2-6, 6-7, 6-0, 6-1, 6-1. It is the beginning of the Swedish era. He won again the following year after a final victory against Argentinian Guillermo Vilas.. He failed in 1976 against the future winner of the tournament, the Italian Adriano Panatta, after beating the French François Jauffret 10-8 in the fifth set of his round of 16. This is Borg's second defeat at Roland Garros (already beaten by Panatta in 1973). Panatta wins the title by beating Harold Solomon, striker of Raúl Ramírez and Guillermo Vilas. This victory is the last and only Italian male victory at Roland Garros under the open era. In 1977, Guillermo Vilas took advantage of Borg's absence (banned from playing following his participation in the Intervilles) and beat the American Brian Gottfriedin the final, leaving him only three games. This is the biggest victory at Roland Garros under the Open era.

In 1978, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Roland-Garros stadium, a ceremony was organized to celebrate the players who made the history of the tournament. For the third time, Björn Borg wins the Musketeers Cup which is presented to him by Henri Cochet. Borg did the same in 1979, 1980 without losing a set and 1981. These four rank titles make him one of the legends of Roland-Garros.

In 1982, another Swede was crowned on Parisian clay: Mats Wilander. In the semifinals, when the referee gives him the victory, he chooses to hand over the match point. He then qualifies for the final, and beats Guillermo Vilas, who has lost three of the four finals he has played in eight years. At the age of 17 years and 9 months, Wilander dominated the Argentinian 1-6, 7-6, 6-0, 6-4 and won the first major title of his career.

The following edition, Mats Wilander reached the final, confirming his talent. Yannick Noah, after beating Ivan Lendl in the quarter-finals, dominates Frenchman Christophe Roger-Vasselin in the semi-final to advance to the final against Wilander. This takes place onJune 5, 1983in front of 18,000 people. Noah leads and gets match point which Wilander saves. The Swede saves another match point at 6-2 in a tie-break before giving in on a too long service return. Noah becomes the first player of color to win Tournament. He is the last French winner of the men's tournament. During the tournament, Yannick Noah plays an offensive game, he is one of the last winning attackers at Roland-Garros. Marcel Bernard gives him the Musketeers Cup. Noah is the last player to win with a wooden racket, abandoned the following year.

In 1984, Czechoslovakian Ivan Lendl, finalist in the 1981 edition, won the Grand Slam tournament on clay for the first time, beating American John McEnroe, although the latter won the first two sets. In front of the President of the Republic, François Mitterrand, Lendl finally wins 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5 and inflicts on McEnroe one of the three defeats of his season and deprives him of one of the Grand Slam titles that he will always miss. The 1984 final was also the only final without a Swede of the 1980s. In doubles, the French Noah and Leconte win the tournament.

The 1985 edition was marked by the return of Borg's successor, Mats Wilander, who won against defending champion Ivan Lendl. Jimmy Connors failed four times in a row in the semi-finals between 1982 and 1985. It was against another Swede that Lendl won his second Roland-Garros the following year. Mikael Pernfors failed to beat the Czechoslovakian and lost in final 23. Ivan Lendl managed the performance of winning his third Grand Slam tournament at Roland Garros in 1987. In the final, he takes his revenge against Mats Wilander and beats him. Just as Lendl managed to do in 1987, Mats Wilander won his third French Open in 1988by beating the last French finalist Henri Leconte. In 1989, Michael Chang won his only title on Parisian clay after beating a new Swede in the final. After Borg, Wilander and Pernfors, Stefan Edberg is the fourth and last Swede to reach the Roland-Garros International final in fifteen years. He lost in the final against Chang who entered the history of the tournament by serving with the spoon in the round of 16 against the three-time winner Ivan Lendl and by being the youngest winner of the Roland-Garros tournament at 17 years and three months old.

Between Björn Borg's first victory in 1974 and Stefan Edberg's final in 1989, the Swedes won nine of the sixteen tournaments played. The last of three victories for Mats Wilander in 1988 is still the last Swedish victory at the French Open in tennis.

Domination of Chris Evert

Finalist for the first time in 1973, Chris Evert lost against the Australian Margaret Smith Court who won her last title at Roland Garros. In 1974, Chris Evert won his first grand slam title after a final victory against Olga Morozova. The first final between Chris Evert and Martina Navrátilová took place on June 2, 1975. After losing the first set, Chris Evert wins 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. With competition from the intercity, most of the best players in the world do not participate in the tournament for the next three editions. After Sue Barker's victory in 1976, Mima Jaušovec took advantage of it and won the tournament in 1977 against Florenta Mihai, with the sum of 35,000 francs. Finalist the following year, the Yugoslav player lost 6-2, 6-2 against Virginia Ruzici. Chris Evert made a triumphant comeback in 1979, largely dominating Wendy Turnbull, then repeats his performance in the next edition against Virginia Ruzici. In 1981, Evert was beaten in the semi-finals by the young Czech Hana Mandlíková who logically won the tournament, taking advantage of the premature failure of the other favorite Martina Navrátilová. The latter, unfortunate finalist in 1975 and absent from 1976 to 1980, finally won her first French Open by beating Andrea Jaeger in 1982.

Evert won the tournament again in 1983. The second duel between Navrátilová and Evert takes place on May 28, 1984. The first wins the match and the tournament but the two following finals between the two players, of an exceptional level of play, know a different fate. In 1985, Chris Evert dominated his rival, then undefeated since his victory the previous year, and entered the history of tennis with a seventh victory (record) in 1986. Martina Navrátilová, who has already lost three finals against Chris Evert, lost a fourth in 1987 against the German Steffi Graf. The latter won in three tight sets and pocketed a check for 1,085,000 francs.

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