Monday, June 4, 2007
What you need to know about... the French Open Tennis Championships
The French Open, officially known as Roland Garros, is a tennis tournament held over two weeks between mid-May and early June in Paris, France. It is the second of the Grand Slam tournaments on the annual tennis calendar and is the premier clay court tennis tournament in the world.
Officially the "Tournoi de Roland-Garros" (the "Roland Garros Tournament" in English), the tournament is often referred to as the French Open. It is named after its stadium, which is in turn named after the World War I pilot.
The French Open began as a national tournament in 1891. In 1925, the French Championships opened itself to international competitors with the event held on a grass surface alternatively between the Racing Club de France and the Stade Français.
Clay courts slow down the ball and produce a high bounce when compared to grass courts or hard courts. Clay court specialists have evolved who often succeed here while many higher ranked players struggle. Pete Sampras, who won fourteen Grand Slam singles titles, Roger Federer, the current World No. 1, and Jimmy Connors have won every other Grand Slam singles tournament but never the French Open. As of 2006, the last six French Open men's singles championships were won by men who did not win any other Grand Slam tournament, as were the last 8 of 9, 11 of 13, and 13 of 17. On the female side of tennis, the French Open is the title that has prevented players such as Lindsay Davenport from achieving a career Grand Slam, and in 1997, it was the only Grand Slam singles tournament that Martina Hingis failed to win.