Roland GarrosStarting May 23rd, the 2010 French Open is one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world. Clay courts make up this venue named after Roland Garros, the famous … pilot! Most people assume that Roland Garros was one of the early twentieth century tennis champions among names such as René Lacoste. Garros, who very rarely played tennis, and only for fun, was actually a famed World War One aviator. So how did a major tennis venue and tournament get named after an aviation pioneer? This week’s edition of France-Amérique‘s internet newsletter answers the question. If you can read French, you can go directly to the article: Pourquoi le tournoi Roland Garros s’appelle-t-il ainsi ?

If your French is a little rusty, here is a short English summary: After wining the Davis Cup in 1927 against the Americans, four French tennis stars nicknamed “the four musketeers”  planned to renew their feat for 1928 in France. Unfortunately, France did not have, at the time, a venue large enough for such an event. The perfect site was quickly found in Paris, near Porte d’Auteuil in the beautiful 16th arrondissement. The Rugby club  “Stade Français” donating the venue had only one request:  it must be named after one of its most famous members who died 10 years earlier in the line of duty, Roland Garros. In 1928, the French Musketeers won the Davis Cup once again, this time at home!

Every year in late May, France gets in the mood for tennis and everyone is glued to their TV to find out who the new Roland Garros champions will be. This year you can enjoy the tournament, knowing who it is named after and why!