The French Open, also known as Roland Garros, is usually held in late May. It is the second Major championship conducted in the year, out of the four Grand Slams in tennis.
Roland Garros is considered to be the most grueling Slam of all. The tournament takes place on clay, which makes the rallies longer and more tiresome. This makes Roland Garros extremely unique and special.
A brief history
The French Open was formerly called "The French Clay Court Championships", and was created in 1891. This was initially meant only for the members of the French Club in France.
Then in 1925, the French Open came into existence where players from abroad also participated.
The French men and women dominated the tournament for a long time. Initially held at Stade Francais, the French Open was shifted to Stade Roland Garros in 1928. This stadium was built in honour of the French fighter pilot who was killed during the Great War, and was also named after him.
The prize money for the champions
The French Open that is held every year in Paris offers a huge amount of prize money to the winners across disciplines. The prize money for the men's and women's singles champions was increased by 8% in 2018.
With this increase, the total prize money of the entire French Open tournament is now 48 million dollars. Roland Garros has increased the prize money for the first round losers too.
The significance of the French Open
The most significant feature of Roland Garros is the bright orange-red clay court. It is very challenging for players because the ball moves much higher and slower compared to any other court.
The sensational Spanish champion Rafael Nadal has won the French Open title 11 times. This is the most number of titles won by any tennis player at a single Grand Slam. It is no surprise that Nadal is called the 'King of Clay'.
There are many other players who have made a mark on the clay courts of Paris, most notably Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles. The tremendous amount of stamina and athleticism required to win the French Open has made it elude several all-time greats; players like John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors never won at Roland Garros.Published 26 Dec 2018, 20:51 IST