Roland Garros, also known as the French Open, is currently underway in Paris. Here are five facts about this annual grand slam tennis event that you may not know.
1) Officially named “Internationaux de France de Tennis,” the tournament is referred to in English as the “French Open” and alternatively as “Roland Garros.” The tournament and venue are named after French aviator and World War I pilot Roland Garros.
2) The competition started as Championnat de France in 1891, and it was only open to tennis players who were members of French clubs. From 1915 to 1919, no tournament was held due to World War I. In 1925, the competition became open to international players.
3) In recent years, Rafael Nadal has dominated the tournament on the men’s side with 13 wins since 2005. American tennis player Chris Evert has won more titles than any other women in the Open era, taking home the championship trophy seven times.
4) The French Open is the only grand slam event played on a clay court. But in reality, the surface consists of five layers: stones, gravel, clinker (volcanic residue), limestone, and a thin layer of crushed brick that gives the courts their ochre hue.
5) In the Open era, only two French nationals have won the tournament: Yannick Noah in 1983 and Mary Pierce in 2000.