A Brief History of The French Open

A Brief History of The French Open


In America, the U.S. Open brings out the best in tennis talent, however we often forget that just 10 years after the first event that across the world, a tournament that holds equal prestige would begin.

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The French Open is an annual tennis tournament held over two weeks in May and June. Established in 1891, The French Open has been played since 1928 on outdoor red clay courts at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris, France and is one of the four Grand Slam tournaments played each year.

The first winner of the Championship was the British player H. Briggs who was a member of Club Stade Français which entitled him to compete. French players were dominant in the early stages of the tournament, in particular Max Decugis, who won eight titles before the outbreak of the First World War.[10] Once the open became viable to international challengers in 1925, France's victory in the 1927 Davis Cup increased interest in the tournament and required a new stadium to be built.

Jack Crawford's victory in 1933 was the 1st time a foreign player had won the tournament since 1891. Following his victory, no French players won the title up until 1940, when the tournament was suspended following the outbreak of the WW2, though it was held unofficially under the name: Tournoi de France. Marcel Bernard won the first event after the end of the war in 1946; he was the only Frenchman to win the event before the advent of the Open era in 1968.

No one player dominated the event during this period until  in 1968, when professional players were allowed to compete with amateurs as an official “open.” Previously only amateurs could compete in the Grand Slam tournaments. 

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Australian Ken Rosewall, was the first Grand Slam tournament to be played in the Open era. Michael Chang later became the youngest man to win the French Open when he beat Stefan Edberg in 1989. Prolific tennis phenom, Rafael Nadal won his first open in 2005 and held a streak until 2008. After losing to Robin Söderling in 2009, he regained his title from 2011 - 2014 and was defeated in 2015 by Novak Djokovic. 

2005 marked Rafael Nadal's first French Open; he won four consecutive titles from 2005 - 2008. Nadal was beaten in 2009 tournament by Robin Söderling but regained the title in 2010 and defended his crowns in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. In the 2015 event, he was eliminated in the quarter-finals by Novak Djokovic.

As we move into 2019, Nadal plans to continue his streak starting in 2017 to continue building on his 11 championship wins. This year’s French Open will take place May 20–Jun 9, 2019 and can be streamed via the EuroSport website. 


We hope you’ve enjoyed A Brief History of The French Open! Are you looking forward to watching the open in its native language this year? Our native instructors and culturally immersive group classes are sure to help you celebrate with every winning announcement! Click below to learn more.