The history of the Roland Garros, from its beginnings to today

From the Four Musketeers to Rafael Nadal

by Lorenzo Ciotti
The history of the Roland Garros, from its beginnings to today

Here we are! There are only a few days left until the Roland Garros 2023 starts, and this will be a historic edition. There will be no Rafael Nadal, and it will be the first French Open since the retirement of Roger Federer and Serena Williams.

Let's retrace the history of the tournament, from today to its inception. After years of battles and reproaches, a retractable roof on the Philippe Chatrier, the lights and a general modernization are ready to amaze all the fans who will have the chance to get into the Roland Garros Stadium.

The years 2005 to 2022 were dominated by one person: Rafael Nadal, who won 14 titles in Paris. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic completed Career Grand Slams at the French Open, while Stan Wawrinka won a sensational title in 2015.

The advent of Bjorn Borg and Chris Evert before, then of Steffi Graf and Gustavo Kuerten marked the following years. With the advent of the 2000s, it became clear that the tournament facilities had become inadequate by current standards, especially compared to cutting-edge tournaments like the Australian Open, Wimbledon and now the US Open, all Slams with at least one roof retractable.

The tournament that was open to all players of the world and took place in the Saint-Cloud park in 1925. After the victory of the four Musketeers in the Davis Cup of 1927, it was decided to build the Stade de Roland Garros on a three-hectare site, near Porte d'Auteuil, inaugurated in 1928.

René Lacoste, Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet, Jacques Brugnon and Suzanne Lenglen, the four Musketeers and La Divine, rewrote a new page of tennis in '20s. Fred Perry and Nicola Pietrangeli came before and after the Second World War, but with the beginning of the Open Era, all the great tennis players could return to play on the clay courts of the newly-named French Open, even those professional players considered by the Fédération Française de Tennis as traitors to the sporting spirit.

From 1891 and, until 1924, the tournament was reserved only for French tennis players, or for the members of a French tennis club. Since 1925, the tournament has been open to tennis players from all over the world. The tournament venue is located at the Stade Roland Garros, a facility named after a French air force pilot in the First World War, and is located near Bois de Boulogne.

In 1891 the first tournament was organized by the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques on the courts of Racing Club de France. The first event took place in one day, in which five players took part.

Roland Garros Rafael Nadal