An A to Z of Roland Garros
Over the 15 days of the tournament (not counting qualifiers therefore), the French Open had record attendance figures in 2012 of 430,093 spectators. 13,354 spectators also attended the qualifiers. On the Saturday before the "Sunday Start", the Roland Garros charity children's day saw 23,627 people come through the gates. By way of comparison, there were 222,925 spectators in 1980 and 344,970 in 2000.
They are aged between 12 - 16, are no taller than 1.75 m (5'9"), do not wear glasses or contact lenses and are members of a tennis club. They are the 250 ball kids, who work under the aegis of David Portier and Arthur Bongrand. They are chosen from among 2,500 applicants from all across France, and between November and January they have to take all sorts of tests to gauge their fitness and skill.
The Roland Garros children's day, formerly known as Benny Berthet Day, was first held back in 1977 and is a highly enjoyable event which raises money for good causes. This year it will be held on Saturday 25 May. Top players who will be at the tournament take part in one-set exhibition matches on the three show courts (Philippe Chatrier, Suzanne Lenglen and No.1). It is very much a dress rehearsal, featuring umpires and ball-kids, and is a wonderful opportunity for fans to come and watch their favourite players whilst helping those less fortunate at the same time. There will be plenty of fun and last-minute surprises at this showcase event, with famous French DJ Bob Sinclar once again spinning the wheels of steel this year!
As well as its presence on Facebook (with almost 784,000 fans), Twitter (more than 208,000 followers), Google Plus and Instagram, Roland Garros now has its own channel on the Dailymotion video platform. The channel is solely dedicated to the tournament and features highlights from 2012 as well as some of the magic moments from the French Open stretching back to 1989.
Quite simply a must! The "RG Lab" has become an integral part of the landscape for fans at the French Open. This fun space, situated across from the National Coaching Centre, is entirely given over to the imagination and to the tennis of the future! Visitors are invited to embrace the future by taking part in various innovative and often spectacular activities dreamed up by the various tournament sponsors.
This will be the 83rd France International Championships, which became an international tournament in 1925. This legendary event was first played in 1891, making 2013 the 112th French championships in total. This year will be the 80th time that the tournament is being played at Roland Garros.
The French Open is headed by Jean Gachassin, who has been president of the FFT since 8 February 2009. Gachassin is head of the honorary tournament committee which is made up of members of the federal board.
Hear all about it
The official website of the tournament, developed and hosted by IBM, offers users the chance to keep up to date with the tournament via web radio in English and French. Follow matches live and find out more about what goes on behind the scenes with our commentators and journalists. You'll even be treated to the odd musical interlude from time to time! The official site also has French and English versions of live scores, results and draws, schedules, a host of photos and videos, articles, statistics, games, a fan zone and all the practical info you need regarding the tournament. The Roland Garros 2013 app, developed in collaboration with Orange and IBM and available for iPhone, Android, iPod Touch and iPad, will also provide even more functionalities and interactivity this year, including a virtual stadium tour in 3D. The new app will also provide plenty of access to social networks.
In the city
"La Terrasse" event will be set up on the esplanade outside Paris city hall throughout the French Open, from Thursday 30 May - Sunday 9 June. The aim of this special event is to bring all the emotions of the tournament to the heart of the French capital. It will feature a life-sized tennis court and all sorts of tennis-based activities as well as a giant screen showing all the main matches from the tournament - and all free of charge, with the French Tennis Federation's main aim being to share its love of the sport with as many people as possible. This special event is organised every spring in conjunction with Paris city hall, and will culminate as always with the men's singles final, on Sunday 9 June. This year on Thursday 30 and Friday 31 May, the event will host the "Longines Future Aces" tournament showcasing 16 players from around the world all aged under 13. From Saturday 1 June, the tennis court will also be made available until the end of the tournament to the people of Paris. Get your racquets ready and book your slots!
In 2011, there were 3,750 accredited media representatives at the tournament, which was the most widely broadcast in the history of the French Open, with 13,401 hours shown on television.
Kilometres per hour
The fastest service at the 2012 tournament was fired down by Milos Raonic (Canada), at 237 km/h (147 mph). Germany's Julia Goerges had the fastest service in the women's draw, clocked at an incredible 202 km/h (125 mph). All of the official tournament statistics are provided by IBM, while the official timekeeper of the tournament is Longines.
The Legends Trophy - Perrier is a cornerstone of the French Open, featuring men and women who have made history in the sport of tennis down the years. The fourth edition of the women's tournament will be played during the second week of the French Open, from Wednesday 5 - Saturday 8 June. The men's version of the Roland Garros Legends Trophy - Perrier was first held in 1998 and brings together 24 of the greatest names in the history of men's tennis for a six-day tournament, held from Tuesday 4 - Sunday 9 June. All of the crowd favourites should be on hand to slug it out at the 16th edition of the tournament this year, including Yannick Noah and Guy Forget, as well as a few new faces including Sébastien Grosjean.
The FFT museum, which is celebrating its 10 th anniversary this year, is open to spectators throughout the tournament from approximately 10 am - 7 pm each day. Entry to the museum is free throughout the whole tournament including the qualifiers to anyone who has a ticket. There are two special exhibitions in the museum at the moment. The first, entitled "Moi... Roland Garros", is dedicated to one of the great pioneers of aviation - Frenchman Roland Garros. 2013 is the 100th anniversary of his amazing exploit when he became the first person to fly non-stop across the Mediterranean. The French Tennis Federation has decided to mark this centenary by paying homage to the man who, 15 years later, would give his name to the stadium here at the Porte d'Auteuil in Paris. Fans will be able to find out more about this exceptional pilot's unique life via various exhibits (including images, personal accounts of his life and newspaper articles). The highlight during the French Open will be a model of the legendary Morane-Saulnier type H aircraft which he flew across the Mediterranean. The second exhibition is dedicated to British artist David Nash - a leading figure in the field of contemporary art who has designed the poster for the 2013 French Open. The Tennis Museum will also be hosting a number of jazz concerts throughout the tournament during the evenings. Separate tickets have to be purchased for these events, with the programme available online on http://www.sunset-sunside.com/
Spain's Rafael Nadal is the defending men's singles champion, while Maria Sharapova from Russia is the holder of the women's title. See the History section in the tournament guide for more information.
The stadium gates will be open every day at 10 am from Tuesday 21 May to Sunday 9 June. They will close around 45 minutes after the end of the last match of the day.
The 33rd French Open poster for 2013 has been designed by British artist David Nash. Back in 1980, Daniel Lelong, who runs the gallery of the same name, and Jean Lovera, an accomplished player who went on to become chairman of the Dauphiné-Savoie regional tennis committee, decided to embark on an artistic adventure and commission one of the biggest names in the world of contemporary art to produce the Roland Garros poster every year.
The men's and women's qualifiers are held on-site at Roland Garros over four days, beginning on Tuesday 21 May for the men and Wednesday 22 May for the women and finishing on Friday 24 May. The event was rebadged as "Qrg" in 2011 with the focus being on providing a more enjoyable experience for the fans attending. The areas used for the qualifiers were given a new look, with access to the stadium via gate S and also gate L.
The French Open is played on clay, which owes its red colour to the crushed brick which forms the upper layer of the surface. There are three layers in all - one of limestone, one of clinker and one of stone - as well as drainage pipes. Clay is the slowest of surfaces and much revered by Spanish and South American players who grew up playing on red dirt and know all its secrets inside and out. The first ever clay courts were constructed in Cannes in the South of France in 1880 by Ernest and William Renshaw, who were top players back in the day. Whilst European clay courts are red, the Americans play on (quicker) green clay, with the WTA tournament in Charleston every April being the highlight of the green clay season.
Ever since 2006, the tournament has been spread over 15 rather than 14 days and started on a Sunday. 26 May will be the opening day this year, with 32 first-round singles matches scheduled for what is called (even in French) the "Sunday Start". The first round of singles competition therefore stretches over three days: one half of the draw plays on Sunday and Monday, the other half on Monday and Tuesday. As has always been the case, any player involved in matches at other tournaments on the Friday or Saturday before will not be scheduled to play before the Monday.
The five trophies which are presented to the respective winners of the French Open were designed by Mellerio, a famous Parisian jeweller. The "Coupe des Mousquetaires" is presented to the winner of the men's singles, the "Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen" to the winner of the women's singles, the "Coupe Jacques-Brugnon" to the winners of the men's doubles, the "Coupe Simone-Mathieu" to the winners of the women's doubles and finally the "Coupe Marcel-Bernard" to the winners of the mixed doubles. All of the various winners receive a replica which is half the size of the various originals, all of which are returned to the FFT museum after the tournament.
The various tournament staff can be recognized by their uniforms. The ball boys and girls, for example, will this year be decked out in blue and yellow. You can purchase this apparel at the Official Roland Garros store: www.storerolandgarros.com
Spectators will have plenty to look at as soon as they get into the stadium. The giant video screen installed on the forecourt in front of Suzanne Lenglen stadium by the east stand is back, measuring 74m2 and showing live footage and scoring as well as highlights from the previous day, content from the www.rolandgarros.com video channel "Roland Garros TV" and a ticker with the latest news from this, the 83rd French Open. Other video screens are dotted around the stadium, including two on Philippe Chatrier court (measuring 37m2 each) and Suzanne Lenglen court (2 x 15m2). These provide fans with a full information service which obviously includes the score of the match in progress as well as a presentation of the players involved, statistics, slow-motion replays, information, clips and exclusive images from the tournament. The giant screen at the Place des Mousquetaires (37m2) to the west of No.1 court enables fans to watch matches live. There are also four other screens measuring 6m2 provide the public with information, scores and live coverage. These are located around Philippe Chatrier court, one at the corner of walkway B and Allée Marcel Bernard, alongside the Jacques Brugnon stand, on the western edge of Suzanne Lenglen court and at the la Porte des Mousquetaires. New for 2013, there will be three "totem poles" with 2 m2 screens showing results. Practical information will also be available in the "Les jardins de Roland-Garros" dining area and by Gates I - Suzanne Lenglen and B - Mousquetaires.
Who's playing who?
The great unknown at the start of every tournament is of course the draw. It is traditionally held on the Friday of qualifiers week, at around 11.30 am. The draw that will be performed on Friday 24 May this year will be "semi-electronic". It will begin with the women's singles: the (96) unseeded players will be placed electronically in the draw. The 32 seeds will then be drawn "manually", a procedure that is usually performed by the reigning men's champion, namely Rafael Nadal. The men's singles will then be drawn in the same way, with Maria Sharapova, who won the women's singles in 2012, drawing the seeds.
The "French Open", made by Babolat, will be the official ball of the tournament this year. More than 60,000 of them will be used throughout the three weeks of the tournament.
The tournament director is Gilbert Ysern, who is also director general of the FFT. He is a former tournament referee (a position currently occupied by Swede Stefan Fransson) and was also executive vice-president of the ATP in charge of rules and competitions. He has been director general of the FFT and of the French Open since 2009. He is supported in his tasks by Christophe Fagniez who is the director of operations.
As in the number of men's singles champions who have gone on to lose in the opening round the following year. To find out more tournament-related records and statistics, go to the History section.