french open tennis

The 2024 French Open runs May 26th–June 9th, 2024.
The French Open, also known as Roland Garros, is one of the four prestigious Grand Slam tennis tournaments. Unique among its peers, it is the only Grand Slam played on clay courts, providing a distinct challenge and spectacle in the world of tennis.

The Tournament has a rich history that dates back to its inception in 1891. Initially, it was played on sand and was a national competition exclusive to French players. The tournament opened its doors to international competitors in 1925, marking its transition into a truly global event​.

The Unique Clay Surface

The surface at Roland Garros is often referred to as clay, but it is a complex composition of several layers:

  • Top Layer: 1-2 mm of crushed red brick
  • Middle Layers: 6-7 cm of crushed white limestone and clinker (a type of coal residue)
  • Base Layer: 30 cm of crushed gravel
  • Drainage Layer: Ensures proper water management

This unique composition affects the ball’s speed and bounce, leading to longer rallies and a slower game compared to grass or hard courts​.

Prestigious Trophies

The trophies at the French Open carry significant historical weight:

  • Men’s Singles: Coupe des Mousquetaires (Musketeers’ Cup), named after the famed French tennis players of the 1920s.
  • Women’s Singles: Suzanne Lenglen Cup, honoring the legendary French tennis player of the early 20th century.

Unique Tournament Features

  • Start Date: The French Open is the only Grand Slam that begins on a Sunday, providing an extended opening day for fans
  • Venue: Stade Roland Garros, constructed in 1928, is named after Roland Garros, a celebrated World War I aviator.

Record Holders and Milestones

  • Rafael Nadal: Holds the record for the most men’s singles titles at the French Open, with 14 victories from 2005 to 2022 (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022). His dominance has earned him the title “King of Clay“​ 
  • Youngest Winners: Michael Chang, at 17, is the youngest male winner (1989), and Monica Seles, at 16, is the youngest female winner (1990)​.

Equal Prize Money

In 2007, the French Open set a precedent by becoming the first Grand Slam tournament to offer equal prize money to men and women. This milestone was a significant step towards gender equality in tennis

The following table details the prize money allocation for various categories in the 2024 French Open tournament:

Category 2024 Prize Money (Euros)
Men’s Singles Winner (Carlos Alcaraz) €2,300,000
Women’s Singles Winner (Iga Swiatek) €2,300,000
Men’s Singles Runner-up 1,150,000
Women’s Singles Runner-up 1,150,000
Men’s Doubles Winners 580,000
Women’s Doubles Winners 580,000
Mixed Doubles Winners 122,000
Men’s Singles Semifinalists 600,000
Women’s Singles Semifinalists 600,000
Men’s Singles Quarterfinalists 380,000
Women’s Singles Quarterfinalists 380,000
Men’s Singles Round of 16 240,000
Women’s Singles Round of 16 240,000
Men’s Singles Round of 32 170,000
Women’s Singles Round of 32 170,000
Men’s Singles Round of 64 108,000
Women’s Singles Round of 64 108,000
Men’s Singles Round of 128 69,000
Women’s Singles Round of 128 69,000

This comprehensive prize distribution highlights the significant financial rewards available to participants, reflecting the prestige and competitive nature of the French Open

The Longest Match

The longest match in French Open history occurred in 2004, lasting 6 hours and 33 minutes between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clément. This marathon match highlighted the physical and mental endurance required to compete at Roland Garros

Financial Significance

As of 2023, the French Open boasts a prize fund of over 49.6 million euros (approximately 53 million USD), making it the second-richest tennis tournament globally

Notable Winners and Earnings

Biggest Money Winners of All Time

  • Rafael Nadal: With 14 titles, Nadal has earned substantial prize money from the French Open alone.
  • Chris Evert: The leading female winner with 7 titles between 1974 and 1986.
  • Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic: Both have won the French Open and amassed significant career earnings, although not as many titles as Nadal

The French Open stands out not only for its unique playing surface and historical significance but also for its contributions to tennis, such as promoting gender equality and hosting some of the sport’s most memorable matches. As it continues to evolve, Roland Garros remains a pinnacle of achievement in the tennis world.

Tamara Stewart

Obsessed with sports stats, and fond of the occasional wager - Tam is a sports writer and data analyst covering NFL, NHL and UFC.