Ever since the French National Championship opened its doors to the world beyond its borders in 1925, it has challenged the weak, rewarded the durable, and cut its own unique path through the tennis history books.
In 1968, it was the first Slam to open to amateurs and professionals.
In 1981, it introduced its own additional awards: the Prix Orange for sportsmanship and the Prix Citron for strength of character.
Initially held on grass, it is now the only Slam on clay, and marks the culmination of the unique sweep of three consecutive Masters tournaments on the same surface.
The special properties of the clay—slower, higher bouncing, requiring exceptional strength from the back of the court, and remarkable footwork to shunt back and forth—have ensured that many of the great players of the Open era failed in this one Slam. In particular, the exponents of the serve-and-volley game, such as Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Stefan Edberg, and Boris Becker all failed at Roland Garros.
But despite the fact that the colors of the Tricolore flew over the French tournament from 1892 until the end of the Second World War—except for the pre-war years—France has only managed one male champion since 1945: Yannick Noah. And there have been just three females, only one of them in the Open era: Mary Pierce.
This, therefore, is a celebration of the champions who made the clay of Roland Garros their playground, and the countries that have, for a time, gained a foothold on French soil: its terre battue.
Two nations feature twice, for both men and women. The first of those is Spain.