Event Info / A to Z

An A to Z of Roland Garros

Over the 15 days of the tournament (not counting the qualifiers), the 2013 French Open welcomed 428,751 spectators, just shy of 2012’s record-breaking 430,093 spectators. 10,501 spectators also attended the qualifiers. On the Saturday before the "Sunday Start", the Roland Garros charity children's day saw 22,324 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 and 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.

Children's day
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 24th May. Top players who will be at the tournament will 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!

The tournament director is Gilbert Ysern, Managing Director of the FFT. Christophe Fagniez, the Operations Manager, leads the steering committee.

Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam tournament that does not use Hawk-Eye technology to judge whether a ball is in or out. In the event of an appeal by a player or if there is a doubt regarding a call, the chair umpire checks the mark left by the ball on the clay. The human eye decides!

Entertainment zone
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.

French Open ball
Manufactured by Babolat, the French Open ball is the official ball of the Roland Garros tournament. In total, more than 60,000 balls are used during the three weeks of competition.

The French Open is headed by Jean Gachassin, who has been president of the FFT since 8th February 2009. Gachassin is head of the honorary tournament committee which is made up of members of the federal board.

Roland Garros stadium is named after one of the great pioneers of aviation, who set numerous records before being killed in air combat in October 1918, just five weeks before the Armistice. Roland Garros was just 30 years old. One hundred and one years ago, he became the first person to fly non-stop across the Mediterranean. To honour this exploit, the FFT museum is housing the “Moi…Roland Garros” exhibition, which boasts various quotations and illustrations.

IBM - radio
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. 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!

In 2013, there were 1,347 accredited media representatives at the tournament: 459 for the written press, 454 for television, 130 for radio, 87 for online press and 217 photographers.

Kilometres per hour
The fastest service at the 2013 tournament was fired down by Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz, at 228 km/h (141 mph). The USA’s Serena Williams had the fastest service in the women's draw, measuring over 200 km/h (124 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 over the years. 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 during the second week. This year will see the fourth edition of the Ladies Legends Trophy.

The FFT museum 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. This exhibition was already on display last year, as 2013 marked the 100th anniversary of his amazing exploit, when he became the first person to fly non-stop across the Mediterranean. 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 second exhibition is entitled Front lines — tennis in 14-18. Exploring another side of the war years, it shows how society evolved and how the notion of sport came to the fore. Marguerite Broquedis, Anthony Wilding, Jean Borotra… The stories of twelve champions who played through the storm, and their happy or tragic outcomes, will punctuate your visit.

Spain's Rafael Nadal is the defending men's singles champion, while Serena Williams from the USA is the holder of the women's title. See the History section in the tournament guide for more information.

The French Open poster for 2014 has been designed by Spanish artist Juan Uslé. 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 20th May for the men and Wednesday 21st May for the women and finishing on Friday 23rd 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.

Red dirt
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.

Sunday Start
Ever since 2006, the tournament has been spread over 15 rather than 14 days and started on a Sunday. 25th 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, in particular the ball boys and girls. You can purchase this apparel at the Official Roland Garros store: www.storerolandgarros.com

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 23rd 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 Serena Williams, who won the women's singles in 2013, drawing the seeds.

Roland Garros will have its very own Youtube channel for the first time this year. On it, you can watch match summaries, snippets from press conferences, interviews with the tournament’s stars, and videos from behind the scenes. This extensive video content is also available on the official website, on the RG TV page.

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.

Roland Garros Radio
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  • 19:50
    Right, that's it from us. Thanks for reading over the past 15 days. We'll see you again in just under 49 weeks' time! Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did! Always a pleasure, never a chore!
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    Read all about it!
  • 18:48
    Nole meanwhile is still shaking his head, five minutes on... Poor Nole, after such a comeback...