By Molly Carr - June 5, 2016
Roland-Garros Fun Facts: Part 1
By Sarah Edworthy on Saturday 28 May 2016
Anyone for "tenez"? With a nod to Le Petit Quizz, we bring you quirky facts, figures, milestones and anecdotes that contribute to the rich history of Roland-Garros.
Aux quatre coins du stade - Jour 3
Tennis as we know it was adapted from the French game known as jeu de paume and began in 1874 with rubber balls. The latter were soon covered with felt in order to reduce their bounce. The pressurised ball appeared in 1920. With a nod to Le Petit Quizz, we bring you quirky facts, figures, milestones and anecdotes that contribute to the rich history of Roland-Garros.
Where does the word tennis come from?
From the French "tenez" (receive). This was an interjection used by players of jau de paume - an indoor precursor to tennis, played without rackets - to indicate that a player is about to serve. Pronounced the English way, the word became "tennis".
How did tennis as we know it reach France?
The sport was brought to France by British tourists, first to the seaside resorts on the Channel, then to the French Riviera and was an instant hit.
What is the story behind the red clay?
At the end of the 19th century, two British tennis champions - William and Earnest Renshaw - had grass courts built in Cannes. But the grass did not survive under the Mediterranean sun and the lines faded. The brothers thought about covering the courts in a soft powder of crushed terracotta pots produced locally. In this way, the clay court came into existence.
How did Rene Lacoste become associated with "the crocodile" - the motif that still distinguishes his brand?
During the 1923 Davis Cup, Rene Lacoste bet on his own victory against Australian player James Anderson. The pledge was, quite simply, a crocodile skin suitcase. After hearing the anecdote, a journalist and admirer of Lacoste's game coined the expression. The crocodile came to symbolise the player - and, later, his brand.
What was Suzanne Lenglen's nickname?
"La Divine". Crowned world champion at 15, she foreshadowed the golden era of French tennis. By refusing to wear corset and hats, she left a mark that went far beyond her sport and took part in women's emancipation.
What happened to Roland-Garros during the "Phoney War" in 1939-40?
It was requisitioned by the French government as an internment and transit camp for "undesirable foreigners". Up to 600 prisoners were crammed into the venue, and lived in precarious conditions.
How are white lines painted on clay?
The lines are marked out with thread and scraped to 6cm wide, down to the limestone layer. A thin coat of linseed oil is first applied for better adherence, and then two coats of white paint are applied.
How much red brick dust is needed to cover a clay court?
About one tonne for an average court. The Roland-Garros centre court named in honour of Philippe Chatrier, which has more space than usual behind the baseline, requires 1.5 tonnes of dust.
What do Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Martina Hingis and Jimmy Connors all have in common?
These great champions never won the French Open.
Only one champion managed to beat Bjorn Borg at Roland-Garros. Who is he?
Adriano Panatta, in 1973 and 1976. Borg lost twice to the Italian champion.