Roland Garros: A Parisian love affair
September 21, 2020 - October 11, 2020 - The delayed Roland Garros tournament will be held over three weeks rather than the usual two, to allow for a qualifying tournament to be played from Sep 21-25, followed by the main draw from Sep 27 to Oct 11. The event is normally played in May-June. Provided Covid-19 regulations allow, up to 20,000 fans will be permitted to attend, around 50-60 percent of normal capacity. Masks will be required for everyone, even while seated.
The concept of clay courts dates from 1880 when powdered terracotta was used in Cannes to cover grass courts wilting in the heat.
The inaugural French Clay-Court Championships, limited to club members only, were played in 1891. The tournament was opened to international players in 1925, becoming the French Open. A designated court complex opened three years later, named in honour of Roland Garros, a pioneer French aviator killed in World War I.
Notable champions at Roland Garros include Spain’s Rafael Nadal, who has won the Coupe de Mousquetaires 12 times, a record number of singles titles for any of the four Grand Slam tournaments. American Chris Evert tops the women’s table, winning the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen seven times between 1974 and 1986.
A major expansion that included the complete rebuilding of the 90-year-old Court Philippe Chatrier to accommodate a retractable roof was completed in early 2020. A key reason, perhaps, why organisers were so keen that the tournament should not fall victim to the coronavirus.