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Roland-Garros, The French Open

The Famous French Tennis Tournament

As May comes to a close, the French Open, or Roland Garros, gets underway! Here's everything you need to know about Paris's annual international tennis tournament.

Fuzzy yellow balls will soon be bouncing off the clay courts of the Roland-Garros Stadium in the west of Paris. Home to the French Open for over 80 years, the world-famous sporting venue hosts the international tennis tournament every year, with five days of qualifying rounds before the two-week-long main tournament begins.

Initially only ‘open’ to amateur French players, the competition went international in 1925. In 1968, along with the other Grand Slam tournaments, Roland-Garros ‘went open’, meaning both amateurs and professional tennis players now had the chance to play against one another for the championship.

Why Is It Called Roland-Garros?

The French Open is generally referred to as Roland-Garros by most non-English speakers. The tournament takes its name from the stadium in which the competition is played, the Roland-Garros Stadium, named for French aviator (and tennis fan) Roland Garros who died in 1918 during World War I. With the stadium serving as the longtime home of the competition, the name Roland-Garros became synonymous with the sporting event.

The French Open in France

Roland-Garros is one of the most popular sporting events in France, with much of the country watching whether from the stands or on TV. This includes celebrities – pay close attention and you’re sure to spot some in the crowd! Luckily for tennis fans, this tournament takes place every year, unlike the FIFA World Cup, and many cafés and bars in Paris have screens to play all the matches. The competition is so popular here, in fact, that it’s sometimes blamed for lowering the grades of French students who are supposed to be studying for exams that take place the same time of year.

Frédéric de Villamil [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Past and Present Players

While Spanish tennis hero Rafael Nadal holds the record for most wins on the Parisian terre battue with 11 total wins including a streak of 5 straight from 2010 to 2015, Yannick Noah – father to NBA player Joakim Noah – is the last Frenchman to have won the “Coupe des Mousquetaires” (or Musketeers’ Cup, the name of the Men’s Singles Trophy) in 1983. For 2019, Nadal is once again the favorite to win, but Switzerland’s Roger Federer, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, and Austria’s Dominic Thiem are top contenders.

On the women’s side, Canadian-born French-American Mary Pierce is the only French woman to win the Women’s Singles title since the tournament went open in 1968. French women have had a bit more luck in the Doubles competition, with Gail Chanfreau, Françoise Dürr, and Mary Pierce all earning the Coupe Simone Mathieu before Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic won in 2016. This year, keep your eye on reigning champion Romanian tennis player Simona Halep, Japan’s Naomi Osaka, Dutch rising star Kiki Bertens, and American Serena Williams.

Tickets to the French Open

General public sales start approximately two months before the tournament, opening in March usually, so it’s best to plan ahead. But don’t worry if you don’t have tickets yet and still want to go; last minute tickets and evening tickets are available in the days and weeks leading up to the event. Tickets cannot be purchased on-site and must be reserved online through the Roland-Garros Official Website.

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