Liberal Arts Blog — Roland Garros — The Greatest Tennis Tournament of All?
Liberal Arts Blog — Saturday is the Joy of Sports, Dance, Fitness, and All Things Physical Day
Today’s Topic: Roland Garros — The Greatest Tennis Tournament of All?
Well, the red clay surface makes the French Open the most physically demanding of the big four “slams” because of the slower pace and higher bounce relative to the grass of Wimbledon and the hard courts of the US and Australian Opens. Historically, the field was deeper at Roland Garros than at Wimbledon because many more players trained on clay courts than on grass. And, third, well it’s in Paris. Today, three notes — the first on the infamous clay, the second on the fighter pilot after whom the tournament is named, the third on the legendary “Four Musketeers” of French tennis history. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE “HALLOWED RED DIRT” OF ROLAND GARROS — five layers, the subtleties, the favored nationalities
1. “The first is made up of stones, followed by gravel, clinker (volcanic residue), limestone and finally a thin layer of crushed brick about two millimetres thick, giving the courts their ochre hue.”
2. “It also brings out spin, and favors those with more light and shade in their game, be it topspin (the one and only Rafa), slice (Justine Henin) or drop shots (which certainly helped Roger Federer lift the Roland-Garros trophy in 2009). All of these subtleties come to the fore, while in terms of movement, it is of paramount importance for players to learn how to slide to good effect.”
3. “Clay has always favored certain countries — France obviously, but also Spain, Italy and the Mediterranean in general. Belgium, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Romania and even Sweden have similarly deep-seated affinities with the red dirt. Latin America is another of clay’s natural homes.”
NB: “And it is certainly no coincidence that, for the past half-century, these countries have provided the majority of French Open winners. It is far easier to be born and bred on red dirt and learn your trade on it as a youngster — those who manage to turn themselves into dirtballers are certainly a rare breed.”
ROLAND GARROS IS NAMED AFTER A FRENCH AVIATOR AND FIGHTER PILOT (1888–1918)
1. World War I: shot down and killed a day before his 30th birthday probably by the German Ace Hermann Habich.
2. “Garros is sometimes called the world’s first fighter ace however, he only shot down four aircraft, while the definition of “ace” was set at five or more victories.”
3. “Garros achieved the first ever shooting-down of an aircraft by a fighter firing through a tractor propeller,”
NB: After being shot down by ground fire in 1915, he was a German POW for three years before escaping. He then rejoined the French Army only to be killed a few months later.
THE TROPHY OF THE FOUR MUSKETEERS — “La Coupe des Mousquetaires” — Jacques Brugnon (1895–1978), Jean Borotra (1898–1994) , Henri Cochet (1901–1987), Rene Lacoste (1904–1996)
1. Nicknamed “Toto,” Brugnon was a doubles specialist. Won 10 Grand Slam doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles with Suzanne Lenglen.
2. Borotra. known as “the bounding Basque” won four Grand Slam singles titles.
3. Cochet was ranked #1 in the world for four consecutive years (1928–1931) and won seven Grand Slam singles, four doubles, and three mixed doubles titles.
NB: Lacoste, “the Crocodile,” was the world’s number one player in 1926 and 1927 and won seven Grand Slam singles titles. His nickname became the logo of the tennis shirt company that he founded in 1933. Before Lacoste, tennis shirts were long-sleeved, button down white shirts that were not optimized for freedom of movement on the tennis court. In 1961 he patented the first tubular steel tennis racket.
For the last four years of posts organized by theme:
#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20
Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to sports, dance, fitness Or the coolest thing you learned about Sports, Dance, of Fitness in your life — whether on the field, on the dance floor or in the gym, whether from a coach, a parent, a friend, or just your own experimentation.
This is your chance to make some one else’s day. Or even change their life. It’s perhaps a chance to put into words something you have never articulated before. And to cement in your own memory something cool you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.