Why Is The French Open Called Roland Garros In Tennis?

The French Open

The French Open, now called Roland-Garros, is a tennis tournament that takes place over the course of two weeks at the State Roland-Garros in Paris, France. The tournament was first given this name in 1928 after a historic win by the French against the United States in the Davis Cup. It is commonly held during the months of late May and early June. The event is played on a clay court and is named after the famous French aviator and fighter pilot.

Both the French Open and Roland-Garros are appropriate names to refer to the tournament. Tennis players themselves even use both. The main difference in who uses which name is the language that person speaks. Most English people will use “French Open,” while French people will more likely refer to the tournament as the Roland-Garros tournament. If you are at a store at the tournament, it is more likely that you will see merchandise with the name Roland Garros embroidered on the merchandise. 


Who is Roland-Garros?

Although the French Open is named after Roland-Garros, he actually had nothing to do with tennis. Garros was a decorated French aviator and fighter pilot during World War I. He was one of the pioneers of military aviation who was tragically shot down in 1918 by a German fighter pilot. His legacy is one of intelligence and honor, traits that the French Open looks to emulate.

How did the French Open get the name Roland-Garros?

The French Open was first held in 1891, and at the time it was only open to French players. It was not until 1925 that the French Open became available to international tennis players. For the first time in history, the French players defeated the United States in the Davis Cup in 1927. To celebrate this monumental win, the French built a new stadium in 1928. The new stadium was given the name Roland-Garros, after their country’s distinguished war hero. Originally, the stadium was used to host the Davis Cup, but the French Open was later moved there and officially renamed Roland-Garros as well. Now, the French Open has become popular worldwide and is one of four Grand Slam tournaments in tennis.   

Why was Roland-Garros chosen?

Although not closely related to tennis, Roland was considered an icon in Paris. To honor his service and keep his legacy alive, one of his peers, Emile Lesueur, from the HEC (the business school he graduated from), requested that his name be used for the stadium to remember the fight he put up during World War I. His name seemed fitting for France’s historical new stadium and became official in 1928. Afterward, the tournament itself adopted the name Roland-Garros as well.