Although the French Open was established in 1891, it was only in 1897 that women were allowed to compete. In the early days, however, participation was restricted to French nationals and foreigners who were members of any authorized French Tennis Clubs only. Unlike other Grand Slams, the French Open always featured a best-of-three sets clash with regard to Women's Singles. The winner of the Women's Singles final takes home a replica of the Suzanne Lenglen Cup named in honour of the 6-time French Open Champion.
Chris Evert has won the most French Open titles among Women in the Open Era with 7. The record for most consecutive titles won at Roland Garros in the Open Era is shared by Monica Seles and Justine Henin - both with 3 consecutive wins. 6 women have won the French Open without dropping a set. The last person to accomplish this was Belgian Justine Henin back in 2007. France leads the countries in the all-time tally with 30 French Open titles closely followed by the USA with 29 titles.
We take a look back at 5 of the youngest French Open Women's Singles Champions in the Open Era (commencing from 1968 onward) :
#5 Evonne Goolagong Cawley
Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley was one of the leading women tennis athletes of the 1970's and early 1980's. After the retirement of compatriot Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong took over the baton of leading Australian Women's tennis. Goolagong Cawley won 14 Grand Slam titles: seven in singles (four at the Australian Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the French Open), six in women's doubles, and one in mixed doubles.
Along with Margaret Court, she is the only woman to have won Grand Slams in multiple categories after childbirth. Goolagong Cawley won her only French Open title in 1971 aged 19 years, 309 days.
#4 Chris Evert
American Chris Evert holds the record for the most Grand Slam final appearances with 31 appearances. In a trophy-laden career, she won 18 Grand Slam Singles titles including winning at least one in 13 consecutive years - an all-time record. Her singles winning percentage of 89.97% is the highest among both men and women. She is widely considered to be the most dominant clay court player in the Women's field with 7 French Open crowns and a clay-court win percentage of 94.55%. Evert won an impressive 157 Singles titles.
Post her retirement from professional tennis, she has had two stints as WTA President and presently works as a tennis analyst for ESPN. Evert won her first French Open crown in 1974 beating Olga Morozova in the final. She was 19 years, 176 days old at the time.
#3 Steffi Graf
One of the tennis' greatest ambassadors, Steffi Graf is the only tennis professional to win the Golden Slam - All 4 Grand Slams and the Olympics Gold in the same year. A precocious talent, Graf grabbed the tennis' world's attention in the late 1980s with her aggressive blend of tennis and charm both on and off the court. Ranked Number 1 in the WTA ranking charts for a record 377 weeks, Graf won 22 Grand Slam titles and is the only player to win at least 4 Grand Slam titles in each of the 4 Grand Slam tournaments.
Graf's first French Open title was also her first ever Grand Slam triumph and it came at the 1987 French Open where she beat Martina Navratilova in a gripping 3-set contest. She was 17 years, 357 days old at the time.
#2 Arantxa Sánchez Vicario
One of Spain's greatest tennis exponents, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario is the only Spanish woman to have played in the finals of all 4 Grand Slam tournaments. A multi-talented individual, she tasted considerable success in Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles competitions winning 4 Singles Grand Slams (including 3 French Open titles and 1 US Open), 6 Doubles Grand Slam titles and 4 Mixed Doubles Grand Slam titles.
Her first French Open triumph came in 1989 where she beat Steffi Graf in one of the longest Grand Slam Women's finals of all-time. She was 17 years,174 days old at the time.
#1 Monica Seles
Yugoslavian turned American citizen Monica Seles won an astounding 8 Grand Slam titles in her teenage - a feat no other tennis professional has ever accomplished. She won 9 Grand Slam Singles titles overall, WTA Finals twice and the Olympic Bronze medal at the Sydney Olympic Games 2000. She won the Hopman Cup in 1991 for Yugoslavia along with compatriot Goran Prpic. Later after acquiring US Citizenship, she helped the USA win the Fed Cup thrice.
She is the only woman apart from Justine Henin to have won 3 consecutive French Open titles in the Open Era. The first of her 3 French Open titles came in 1990 where she beat her great rival Steffi Graf in straight sets. She was just 16 years, 189 days old at the time.