After his third title, Gustavo Kuerten drew a heart on the RG red clay.
Highlights of the tournament
In the run-up to the tournament, Centre Court is renamed “Philippe Chatrier Court” as a tribute to a man who had bestrode French sport like a colossus up until his death a few months previously. This year sees the 100th running of the French championships which were first held back in 1891, and also the unveiling of the second part of the stadium redesign which focused on re-arranging the southern zone of the grounds as well as courts Nos.3 and 4. Qualifiers are held over five days as opposed to their usual four and they begin on the Tuesday as opposed to the Wednesday before the tournament.
As in 2000, Gustavo Kuerten outlasts the competition in the men’s singles, though the Brazilian has to survive as scare in the fourth round against America’s Michael Russell, saving a match point in the process. An exhausted yet elated Kuerten takes his racquet and draws a heart in the clay dust of Philippe Chatrier Court. Three matches later, “Guga” wins his third Roland Garros title after 1997 and 2000.
Jennifer Capriati’s triumph in the women’s singles, 11 years after her debut here, is every bit as remarkable. Most people consider her a lost cause at the highest level but she shakes that off to become the first American since Chris Evert in 1986 to win at the Porte d’Auteuil.