On Monday 22 May, the French Open Tennis Tournament begins on the red clay of the Roland-Garros Stadium. It’s a splendid time of year when the gods and goddesses of the stadium, the snowshoeing giants, the virtuosos of the little yellow ball meet once again. White cap screwed to her head, Victoire Burgundy is ready. And to occupy herself while she waits, she decides to look at the history of the prestigious tournament, its prizes, and its stars.
A venerable tournament
The tournament itself has existed since 1925 – that’s almost prehistoric to Victoire who has difficulty imagining a time so long ago. As she searches and surfs, she learns about the players who wore long trousers to compete in the first French Championships in 1891 – long before the tournament opened to international players and took its current name. She is speechless (which is very rare for Victoire!) when she sees the long skirts and court shoes worn by the first female champions like Adine Masson in 1897 or the legendary Suzanne Lenglen, who began her career at the age of just 13 and went on to win the tournament for four years in a row from 1920.
In honour of the Musketeers
It wasn’t the sword in hand but the sure, snowshoeing arm that won the Davis Cup for the ‘four musketeers’, Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet and René Lacoste in 1927. Revenge matches just had to be held in Paris, so the construction of the Roland-Garros Stadium was approved. The famous arena was named for a French aviator who gave his life for his country during an aerial battle in 1918. The stadium was requisitioned by the Vichy regime and served as a prison for its opponents before it was liberated in 1946. The French Open is one of four major international tournaments that make up the Grand Slam. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova and Gaël Monfils are heirs to this great adventure and Victoire encourages them in advance.
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