Roland Garros + why it's my favourite slam

The red clay of Paris isn’t loved by as many as the green grass of Wimbledon and the hard courts of New York and Melbourne. But it holds a special place in my heart. It’s the place where only two male players not named Rafa Nadal have won since 2005 and many one-time women’s champions have been made. Here are a few reasons why Roland Garros is my favourite slam.

The Parisian atmosphere

This will throw people off. Wimbledon is the most coveted slam by fans and players. It’s world famous and unique: grass courts aren’t as common as they were in the early days and the grass court season is the shortest of the year. But I’m a fan of the cosmopolitan and Roland Garros ticks that box. The terracotta courts mixed with the echoing crowd make it seem more open, particularly without roofs on most courts. They feel like amphitheatres and the Bullring is the perfect example.

The Olé chant

And that leads me onto the next point. Ever since I noticed the chant in 2013, I’ve joined in whenever I hear it. It reminds me what I’m watching and brings the only-non Anglophonic flavour to grand slam tennis. With the ATP Finals moving to Turin in 2021, it might not be the only time you’ll hear it but it certainly beats hearing “Come on Andy/Tim!” at Wimbledon.

The uniqueness of clay

Despite the name, clay courts aren’t actually made from real clay. The red variant is the most common, made from crushed brick. Clay courts are common place in Europe and South America and cater to players from those regions who have made up most of the men’s champions in the last couple of decades. There are green and blue clay courts, the latter used for Madrid in 2012 where the colour change was so controversial, they changed it back. Nope, red clay will always be the #1.

Red clay court
Red clay court (credit: Yann Caradec, shared via CC BY-SA 2.0 licence)

The Roland Garros colours

I love good sports designs. We’ve covered plenty on Playrface, from Goias new brand identity to Olympic designs from the past. The orange/white/green colour scheme is vibrant and very Parisian. Everything is clean and bespoke but also a little retro. If you wanted to know what the colours are, the brownish-orange is #b06835 and the green is #06492d. The logo was created in 1987 to differentiate from the tournament posts which are still used today.

The kits of Roland Garros

I was listening to the RTFLivecast last night and the panel weren’t great fans of this year’s kits. I must admit they’ve generally been poor this time compared to previous years but overall, I love outfits most players have come out with. Wimbledon’s strict all-white dress code means sports brands aim to go all out in Paris. It’s the most colourful slam, where block colours excel alongside unique patterns from the likes of Nike, Adidas, Ellesse, and Fila. This infographic shows the changing colours of men’s champions from 1983 to 2012 and it’s interesting to see how kit colours have become more diverse over the years but blue, black, green, and white are certainly favourites amongst them.

The unpredictability (in the women’s draw)

There have been 10 different winners since 2007 with only two women winning more than one title (Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova). That means a lot of first time finalists, shocks, and amazing clutch tennis. It’s the chance for players to earn major points towards their rankings and rise higher than ever before. The 2019 draw is very wide open, with Halep’s edge above the rest but not by much.

The chance to hear Jim Courier’s commentary

Britsh tennis commentary is very stale. If the conversation isn’t about technique, it becomes littered with cliches and tropes and I long for a different voice. Jim Courier provides that. He’s the only Roland Garros champion in the ITV commentary team (and he speaks French) and offers a uniquely un-American take on tennis and anecdotes he throws into the mix. He’s a cultured man and very talented at what he does so I welcome his insight when it’s there. I’d also like to point out he has not paid me for this paragraph.

What’s your favourite slam and why? Let us know in the comments.

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