|Officially the "Tournoi de Roland-Garros" (the "Roland Garros Tournament" in English), the tournament is often referred to as the French Open. It is named after its stadium, which is in turn named after the World War I pilot.
Roland Garros began as a national tournament in 1891. In 1925, the French Championships opened itself to international competitors with the event held on a grass surface alternately between the Racing Club de France and the Stade Français. For the 1928 Davis Cup challenge, a new tennis stadium was built at Porte d’Auteuil. Named for a hero of World War I, the new Stade de Roland Garros, and Court Philippe Chatrier, was built with a red clay ("terre battue") playing surface.
Clay courts slow down the ball and produce a high bounce when compared to grass courts or hard courts. Clay court specialists have evolved who often succeed here while many higher ranked players struggle. Pete Sampras, who won fourteen Grand Slam singles titles, Roger Federer, the current World No. 1, and Jimmy Connors have won every other Grand Slam singles tournament but never the French Open. As of 2006, the last six French Open men's singles championships were won by men who did not win any other Grand Slam tournament, as were the last 8 of 9, 11 of 13, and 13 of 17. On the female side of tennis, Roland Garros is the title that has prevented players such as Lindsay Davenport from achieving a career Grand Slam, and in 1997, it was the only Grand Slam singles tournament that Martina Hingis failed to win.
In 1968, the French Championships became the first Grand Slam tournament to go "open," allowing both amateurs and professionals to compete. In March 2007, Roland Garros announced that it will provide an equal amount of prize money for both men and women in all rounds.
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