French Open: A brief history

Updated: May 26, 2012, 13:00 PM IST

French Open or the Tournoi de Roland-Garros is one of the world`s four major tennis tournaments. The tournament is fully deserving of its reputation as the world`s premier clay court event.

The tournament is held over two weeks between mid-May and early June in Paris. In the tennis calendar it is the second grand slam of the year.

The arena that stages French Open, the Roland-Garros, was built in 1928. The men`s singles championship in France, however, goes back much further than that. It started in the year 1891 and was exclusively reserved for members of French clubs back then. The women`s singles were added six years later. It was in 1925 that the French Tennis Federation decided to open the event to the best foreign players. Before the Roland Garros stadium was built the tournament was staged alternately at Stade Français and Racing Club de France.

Roland-Garros is named after the French aviation pioneer by the same name who became the first man to fly a plane over the Mediterranean.

Roland-Garros was cancelled from 1940 to 1945 due to the Second World War. It was only in 1968 that the French Internationals became the first Grand Slam tournament to join the "Open" era.

Björn Borg ruled the Centre Court at Roland Garros like none else as he won the title a record six times. Other greats of the men`s game at French Open included Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander and more recently Gustavo Kuerten.

In the women’s singles Steffi Graf delighted French fans like no other by winning six titles with her last being in 1999. Monica Seles proved to be unstoppable in 1990, 91, and 92.

Mary Pierce (2000) among the women and Yannick Noah (1983) in the men`s event were the last French winners of the clay crown.

The tournament in 2011 was won by Rafael Nadal (men’s singles). Li Na is the defending champion in the women’s category this year.