The French Open

The French Open - Terry NewmyerThe French Open, also known as the Roland-Garros is a 2 week-long tennis tournament, held in Paris every year. The first tournament was held in 1891, and the players were all members of French clubs throughout the country. In 1897, women were allowed to play in the tournament, but the French Open didn’t gain international popularity until 1925, when players from around the world were able to compete.

The French Open is one of only 4 Grand Slam tournaments in the world. The other Grand Slam tournaments are the US Open, Wimbledon, and the Australian Open. A Grand Slam tournament are each 2 weeks long and considered the biggest major competitions for professional tennis players.

 

Surface of the Court

This Grand Slam tournament is regarded as the most difficult among some in the tennis community, partly because the playing surface is clay. Tennis balls react differently on a clay surface as opposed to the standard hard surface or grass courts. The clay allows players to slide to reach their shots and it’s favored by baseline players. Since the clay makes the ball bounce higher while also slowing it down, big servers often don’t do as well with this type of surface.

To compare, the US and Australian Opens both use hard surfaces and Wimbledon has a grass surface.

 

Grand Slams

When a tennis player is able to win in their division at all 4 Grand Slam tournaments, this is considered a major accomplishment in the world of tennis. There are many different categories of Grand Slams. A calendar Grand Slam means the player won all 4 slam tournaments in the same year. A non-calendar slam, means the player won each of the Super Slam tournament over the course of 2 years.

 

Golden Grand Slam Winners

Tennis players who win all 4 tournaments and the gold medal in the summer Olympics in the same year are known for completing the Golden Grand Slam. The tennis players who have achieved a Golden Grand Slam are on an incredibly short list because it is so difficult to do. The only tennis player who ever achieved a Golden Grand Slam was Steffi Graf in 1988.

“Why are Tennis Balls Yellow?” and Other Tennis Questions

It’s probably not a question that was at the front of your mind. But who knows, maybe one day you’ll be able to share this tennis trivia at a party!

tennis ball on tableTennis balls, for decades, were white. But in 1972, the International Tennis Federation switched to yellow. Why? Because these balls were easier to see on television! For fourteen years, Wimbledon held out, using white balls until the adaptation of yellow in 1986. Other properties of the ball, like the deformation range, were experimented with until perfected in 1996. 2002 saw the acceptance of type 1 and type 3 balls. We’ve been playing with these standards ever since?

Why Are the Balls Fuzzy?

Good question. Tennis balls are made of rubber— they have been for over a century. However, as the game picked up popularity and sought to become more uniform, the balls were hollowed out and pressurized with gas. In order to prevent wear and tear during the course of play, manufacturers began to stitch flannel onto the ball. The result was a more durable tennis ball that also had physical properties allowing it to be spun more easily.

Facts courtesy of ITF website.