One of the most prestigious Grand Slam Tennis Tournaments in the world hits its historic clay court this weekend. At 6 a.m. on Sunday, May 27, the French Open (ou Championnats Internationaux de France de Tennis)tournament hosts its first round. The tournament is the only of the four Grand Slams (Australia Open, Wimbledon Championships and the U.S. Open being the other three) to be hosted on a clay court, making it what many consider to be the most physically demanding. The men compete in a best-of-five format while the women usually compete in a best-of-three and seven rounds are played for the championship.
Rafael Nadal was the winner of the Men's Singles in the 2017 French Open, setting a record with his 10th French Open title, and Jeļena Ostapenko was the winner of last year's Women's Singles.
French Open History
The first French Open tournament was played in 1891 and was limited exclusively to members of French Clubs, only opening up internationally in 1925. That same year, the French Open was designated by the International Tennis Federation to be a major championship. A few years later in 1928, the championship moved to a new stadium and soon after, both would take the name of Roland Garros, the aviator who made the first successful crossing of the Mediterranean. The Roland Garros tournament later became the first of the Grand Slams to allow both amateurs and professionals to compete.
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The Grand Slam tournament has been under some scrutiny recently for not giving three-time French Open Champion, Serena Williams a seed in the Open after taking maternity leave. Because of her absence, Williams's ranking fell to 453rd. However, the former World No. 1 was able to play in Paris this year due to a ranking rule that allows players who were on maternity leave or long-term injury recovery to play using their former rankings. This rule does not apply to seeds, which are given based on current rankings, but after receiving backlash due to Williams's unseeded position, the Women's Tennis Association is reportedly considering applying this ranking rule for the 2019 Open. However, for this year, the WTA's decision remains and the final seeds have been planted.