A History of a
Tennis Grand Slam Event
The "French Open" was first played in 1891. It was called the French Championships, and open only to French players.
It remained a domestic event until 1925, when the French Championships were renamed the French Internationals, and opened up to the best foreign players. For the next three years, Stade Francais and the Racing Club de France took turns staging the tournament.
This coincided with the time that French tennis really started to take off. First came Suzanne Lenglen, with her flamboyant style and her five consecutive Wimbledon singles titles from 1919 - 1923 (and again in 1925); and then Henri Cochet, Rene Lacoste, Jean Borotra and Jacques "Toto" Brugnon - the Four Musketeers - who shocked the American tennis establishment by winning the Davis Cup on American soil in Philadelphia in 1927.
Roland Garros Stadium
After their historic Davis Cup triumph, the French sought a new venue in Paris for the following year's return match against the USA. It was in 1927 that Stade Francais sold a 3 hectare site close to Park D'Auteuil to the French tennis authorities. There was one condition attached to the sale; namely, that the new stadium be named after one of Stade Francais' former members, the famous aviator Roland Garros.
Roland Garros was famous for being the first man to fly across the Mediterranean, on 23 September, 1913.
So it was that in 1928 the French Internationals were played for the first time at Roland Garros stadium. And later that year, the Four Musketeers once again beat The USA (4-1) in the final of The Davis Cup. It wasn't until 1933 that the French lost their stranglehold on the event, losing to Great Britain 2-3.
Amongst them, the Musketeers won a total of 51 Grand Slam singles and doubles titles, with 49 of them being between 1924 and 1936. Borotra won 15 titles, Cochet 14, and Lacoste and Brugnon won 11 each.
From 1940-45 - the War years - the French Internationals were cancelled.
In 1968, the French Internationals was the first Grand Slam tournament to join the "Open" era, thus becoming the French Open we know today.
In 1983, the charismatic Yannick Noah delighted home fans by beating Sweden's Mats Wilander, to become the first - and so far the only - Frenchman to win the French Open in the professional era.
Australian Open History
US Open History