The French Open was first held at the Stade de France in 1891; at first, it was a closed competition in which only men, and only French residents at that, could compete. It was only later, much later that the tournament took its modern name of Tournoi de Roland-Garros after the stadium it moved to in the 1920's, and eventually it became open to women and international competitors. Today, the French Open is the second Grand Slam tournament of the tennis world's calendar and the premier French Open tennis event. The very first tournament was a much less grand affair with the first French Open winner, H Briggs, playing on a grass surface and a handful of spectators.
The inaugural French Open winner caused something of a stir, as H Biggs was in fact an Englishman living in Paris, who entered the competition on a wager. Indeed, this closed French tennis tournament attracted a number of English players residing in France to enter over the years. French Open history was made with the competition being opened to international players in 1925.
The first true French Open tennis tournament was played at the Stade de Roland-Garros in 1925. The tournament still was not "open" in the modern sense, as all the players were classified as amateurs at that time. The men's French Open winner was Rene Lacoste who beat Jean Borota in a one-sided three set match, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4. Rene Lacoste was nicknamed the "Crocodile," and we see his logo today on Lacoste shirts everywhere. French Open tennis was on the rise, and Lacoste along with three other French players who became known as the "Four Musketeers," broke the US dominated Davis Cup in 1928 in Philadelphia. The Men's French Open trophy is known today as the "Coupe de Mousquetaires" in their honor.
French Open history was made in 1968 when the competition became the first of the world's major tennis tournaments to accept both amateurs and professionals. This resulted in an all Australian final, and the first French Open tennis winner was Ken Rosewall who beat his countryman 6-3, 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 in a thrilling final watched by over 30,000 spectators.
Today, the Tournoi Roland Garros holds its place along with the US Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon as one of the major competitions that very few players have ever managed to conquer completely. The Stade de Roland-Garros also houses the world famous "Tenniseum," a museum dedicated to French Open history.
For more information and interesting articles on the French Open and French Open history, check out these interesting links here: