Every summer, under the heat of a Parisian sun, the ‘Tournoi de Roland-Garros’ – commonly known as the French Open – is held in the French capital. The tournament lasts for two weeks, between mid-May and early June, in the Stade de Roland Garros, and is the second of the Gland Slam competitions which take place on the annual tennis circuit.
The event has a long and prestigious history, which began in 1891, as the Championat de France International de Tennis. It’s renowned for being the world’s best clay court tennis tournament, and thus one of the most prestigious events in tennis. Due to the slow playing surface, which means that rallies can go on for a long time, it is considered to be the most physically demanding tennis tournament in the world.
The difference between the French Open’s clay court and other Grand Slam surfaces types, such as Wimbledon’s grass courts, creates a major difference in playing style. Each type of court suits different players, and some professionals have evolved to be successful on one type, but fare less well on another type. For example, Roger Federer, the current world champion, has won every other Grand Slam singles tournament, but never the French Open. In contrast, clay court experts like Rafael Nadal and Juan Carlos Ferrero have only ever won at the French Open.
As to be expected, thousands of tennis fans descend on the capital for the event and hotels in Paris get booked up very quickly, so be sure to make a reservation well in advance to avoid having to stay too far away from the action. Paris is known for being an expensive city, but it you shop around and do your research, it’s possible to find very reasonably priced, good standard accommodation.
The French Open has undergone a number of changes over the last 50 years. In 1968, it became the first of the Grand Slam tournaments to allow amateur and professional players alike to compete – hence the name “open”. It also created new awards in addition to the main prize, such as Prix Orange for the most press-friendly player, Prix Citron for the player with the strongest character and personality, and Prix Bourgeon for the tennis player revelation of the year. And in March 2007, the French Open announced that it would provide equal prize money for both men and women in all rounds, for the first time ever.
For tennis fans around the world, the French open is famed for being one of the most exciting tennis tournaments, and is a highlight of the Grand Slam calendar, so start planning your tennis trip en France now!
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