Roland Garros’s clay, an iconic surface

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A clay surface history which offers completely different way to play tennis – more elegant, and more tactical.

« Roland Garros is one of the pearl of the capital. We have the chance to organize in Paris one of the most beautiful tennis tournaments in the world and it will be even more beautiful in the years to come. In the context of the new Roland Garros, the tournament is actually in full mutation in order to meet the expectations of the different audiences of the stadium. The spectators will be able to discover the new layout which promise to be splendid.” These words from Guy Forget, spoken in 2018, announced the transformations of Roland Garros.

In the manner of the roof of the Chatrier Court. But there is one thing that will always be inseparable from the Paris tournament: its clay court.

In this atmosphere on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, Roland Garros stadium is like an arena-garden where the ochre earth has fascinated the world since 1928.

Why clay at Roland Garros ?

In Cannes in 1880, the two Renshaw brothers, multiple Wimbledon champions, have for the first time used a clay powder to cover the grass courts… because it was impossible to play on grass courts in this heat !

Ever since the clay court has become the true signature of French tennis, favouring a game that is a little more technical, and eminently more chic!

A less direct tennis, more thoughtful, more subtle too. Not surprising then, that the Roland Garros tournament was the most difficult to dominate over time. That is, until Rafael Nadal arrived. On this matter, the Spanish player who holds the record for wins at Roland Garros (12), loves to say : « It gives you more playing options. » Clay, by accentuating the effects, favors the full range of the game. Topspin softened… The show is guaranteed !

The composition of the clay itself is based on a profound reasoning. Made up of five layers, each about 80 centimeters thick, the soil is made up of thick pebbles, gravel, a layer of clinker (volcanic rock residue), and compacted limestone…

Above, there is a thin layer of crushed brick is sprinkled over a thickness of two millimeters. It is an assembly which, since the 1928 Davis Cup final, has been the favourite ground for the greatest champions confrontation .

A surface which inspires the most beautiful moments of world tennis. Tactical, emotional and, above all, historical moments are recounted in detail in books that are as aesthetic as they are didactic. A selection of books to be found here.

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