Sunday, June 3, 2012

Roland Garros's trip down memory lane (with lots of style)

Roland Garros was founded in 1891, initially as a french-nationals only tournament. Nowadays, it is the most watched and commented French event in the world. It is one of the most significant events in tennis and belongs to the elite of championships, the Grand Slam.
The French Open, as it is also known, is the only "Slam" played in clay courts. Not everyone can get there and raise the title. Great champions, like Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Martina Hingis, Boris Becker or Maria Sharapova, never won the French Open and weren't able to adjust their game to the slow playing surface, which demands a lot of physical endurance and agility from the players.
Like Wimbledon, Roland Garros boasts history and tradition. And part of that history is written by the clothes worn at the tournament.


First known appearance of Lacoste with the crocodile logo, 1926; Before a match at Roland Garros, 1929 
One of the most famous clothing brands in the world started to flourish at the French Grand Slam. Lacoste was created in 1929 by French player René Lacoste (with businessman André Gillier). Because of his tenacity on the court and his fetish for alligators, he was nicknamed "the Alligator". René Lacoste was not only one of the most prominent players in the 1920's and 30's but he also made a contribution to fashion by introducing the classic Lacoste shirt with the crocodile logo embroidered on the chest. The brand is the Official Outfitter of Roland-Garros since 1971. 

Hello Shorts!

Christian Boussus, 1936
The next step in fashion at Roland Garros happened when men started to wear shorts instead of pants. French magazine Madame Figaro says the first one was the French Christian Boussus in May 1936. But luxury and style magazine Buy Buy highlights the classic style of Ken Rosewall, who wore "immaculate white shirt and very short white shorts".

Legs, legs, legs

Suzanne Lenglen, 1926; Maureen Connolly and Christiane Marcellis, 1953
By the 1930's, ladies, as well as in Wimbledon, wore long or medium skirts. Until the 1950's the skirts were pleated, but some players started to use them way above the knees (a forward statement for that time). In the 1960's and 1970's, women started to wear shorts or A-lined skirts similar to the one's worn today.

UFOs and color block 

Noah, 1983; Agassi, 1991
Yannick Noah and Andre Agassi, in the 1980's and 1990's, brought color, defiance and pop culture into tennis. Madame Figaro calls the North-american an UFO, with his bold choice of look and blonde locks. Buy Buy says the first black man to win the French Open was an inspiration to many French kids of African origin. In the court, he was like a "rasta tennisman", with "spectacular dreadlocks and a green-yellow-red bracelet".


Rafa at the 2005 French Open 
Nadal is Roland Garros. The king of clay has six French Open crowns, and is in the run for an historic seventh title. Back in 2005, the Spanish came to Paris wearing a style that Buy Buy magazine names as "El Matador" (the killer). Long shorts, sleeveless shirt, a white-band around his head - Nadal resembles a karate fighter. Nowadays, he wears bright colors but a more discreet garment design.

To see more styles used at Roland Garros take a look at the photos and articles (in French) published by Madame Figaro and Buy Buy magazine, here and here.

(Additional photos from Roland Garros Facebook Page and Lacoste Facebook Page)

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