French Open History: What was the Grand Slam Known as Before

Published 05/18/2021, 4:10 AM CDT
PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 09: A general view inside Court Philippe Chatrier during the ladies singles final between Sloane Stephens of The United States and Simona Halep of Romania during day fourteen of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros on June 9, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)


The French Open is the only tennis Major that takes play on clay. The Grand Slam is played in Paris, France, and is usually the second Major of the year- following the Australian Open 2021. The FFT (French Tennis Federation) is the body that is in charge of organizing and managing the tennis tournament.

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Earlier, the French Open was limited to the French or foreign players who were members of a French club during the first 34 years of its existence. As a result, even amateurs couldn’t take part in the tournament if they didn’t satisfy this criterion. However, the tournament attracted many players after it became an international event in 1925.

Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek are the current defending champions of the tournament. Interestingly, World No.3 Rafa is the most successful player in the history of the tournament as he currently has 13 French Open titles to his name.

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Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning championship point during his Men’s Singles Final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia. Day fifteen of the 2020 French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The French Open- its earlier name and some history

The Grand Slam was not called the French Open or Roland Garros right from its inception. When the tournament began in 1891, it was known as ‘Championnat de France’. In English, it is commonly referred to as the French Championships.

The first winner was H. Briggs, a British who resided in Paris and was a member of the Club Stade Français. However, women had to wait a little longer as the tournament included them six years later- in 1897. The mixed doubles event was added in 1902 and the women’s doubles in 1907.

PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 01: The Roland Garros logo is seen outside the VIP village. Day nine of the 2015 French Open at Roland Garros on June 1, 2015, in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

In 1968, the French Open officially became a Grand Slam and the first Major to be played on a non-grass surface. In the same year, it also became the first Grand Slam tournament to open to non-amateur players as well.

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Earlier, Roland Garros didn’t take place at the place where it takes place today. However, it shifted to Stade Roland Garros, Paris in 1928. The central court was renamed the Philippe Chatrier court in 1988.

As a result, what began as the French Championships about 130 years ago has come to be known as the French Open today. The Major is one of the most exciting ones and demands a lot of strong physical gameplay from players to win it.

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Anshul Singh

957 articles

Anshul Singh is a tennis author at EssentiallySports, currently pursuing Journalism Honors from Delhi University. Having significant experience with content, Anshul has authored over 500 tennis articles. He has previously worked as a writer and an editor for DU Express, penning riveting articles on sports, politics, and culture.

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