French Open - Paris France

by Kimp 6. June 2015 03:03

Photo Blog (click to view)

I went to the French open in 2014, but I was so late writing it up, I thought it was better to release this story in 2015.

I hadn't followed Tennis since Pete Sampras played. Pete was a real powerhouse in the 1990's on grass and hard surfaces, but could never quite dial it in on clay. As a result I never really paid that much attention to the French Open, until a friend of mine wanted to go to the French Open. I think this first experience pretty much ruined me from ever going again, because I don't think any other visit's could possibly top this one.

History of Modern Tennis

The ancient history of tennis isn't really known. There was a complicated indoor game (now called real tennis), that was once played mostly by royalty that went into steep decline in the 1600's.  The old game used hard balls that were similar to small baseballs.  

In 1840 Charles Goodyear discoveed rubber vulcanization and rubber balls became popular. Rubber was awesome, because balls could be made, that bounced decent in the grass. In the 1860's a couple of dudes from England took the old rackets and net used in the indoor game and combined that with some outdoor handball game rules and played it on their Croquet field. 

In the 1870's a British Army Officer who was an entrepreneur decided to standardize the equipment, package it all in one package and sell it along with a standard set of rules. He shipped it all over Europe and the United States. It was a huge hit, and in 1877, the first Wilmbledon Championship was held. The first French Open was held in 1891.

Red Clay

The French didn't have croquet courts in their lawns like the English did. They wanted something more durable then lawn, so for their open, they used the same material that all Paris projects were made out of at that time. In 1850 Napoleon commissioned George Eugene Haussmann as the manager in charge of, the rebuilding of Paris. He always used limestone from the quarries in Saint-Maximin, just outside of Paris, as a building material. Say what, "How does limestone get to be called Clay?". The limestone is an ugly color, and this is Paris where aesthetics trump sanity. So a very thin layer, 2mm (0.1 inch) of ground red brick dust is spread on top of the limestone. Clay sounds a lot better then brick dust.

Because of the very hard surface under the clay, the ball bounces more, which makes the bounce delayed. The bounce is also shorter. Therefore, the players need to slow down their reaction on the return and hit it at a different angle. That is difficult for most players, giving excited players with very quick reactions, a hard time playing on clay. Plus they slide a lot more on the loose clay dust on the surface and it clogs the bottom of their shoes. The best player's usually try to knock the clay off of their shoe bottoms between plays. They do that by using the line's that mark the playing field boundaries. 

Crazy scoring system

In reality, a tennis game is the 1st to score 4 times, but win by two. However, tennis is scored 0, 15, 30, 40, game over, unless there is a tie at 40. At the French Open a tie at 40 is called equal. The next person to score has the advantage. If the person with the advantage scores next, they win, if not, then they are back at equal. Other open's call 40-40 a deuce. Most people will say that deuce is derived from the French deux (two), meaning that at that point you need to win by two. I call BS, cause if that were the case, the French would also call it a Deuce or deux. 

Where did 0-15-30-40 come from. The origins of that are unknown, but it is thought that came from an earlier game that tennis was derived from. Here is my theory, which has no basis other then my gut. It's known that the first advanced mathematics system discovered in 4000 BC used 60 as a base. And they knew how to divide (evidence of division and multiplication were found in tables on old clay tablets), so 15, 30, 45 where common 1/4 fractions of 60. It would make sense that lots of games would use divisions of the whole as incremental notches. The game would be won when you reached the whole. Then, why 40 instead of 45? I think that was a later evolution. Zero, 15, 30 and 40 all have two syllables. 45 has three. The musician in me says that any combination of two , two syllable numbers would have a great rhythm. Most songs are 4 beats. That is also in line with the theme of 4's. 4 points for a game and four syllables for a score announcement.

Where did Love come from. Again, many people say that was derived from French word for egg (eouf). I say BS, cause the French call zero, "Zero", not eouf nor Love. I think Love was a evolution, again because it has a nice sound to it. Or when you got zero, you'd sure love to have at least one point on the board. Or when your opponent has 0, you sure are loving it. Or when you love something, you do it for free, not caring that you are getting 0 for it. 


Tennis used to be played by only the wealth. They were the only people who had nice croquet courts at their home. Therefore, most people adopt the dress of the wealthy. Therefore, I dressed up a little for this event, which was a nice change of pace.

Perfect Day

I had great seats on the main court, where the top contender's play each other. Right behind the player's a few rows up, facing away from the sun. It was a beautiful 72 F (20 C) degree day without any chance of rain. These sets are fairly long, especially when they tie and have to play a tie breaker. I feel for the players, who have no one but them selves to count on. They have to be on their game the whole time.

The seats are good for the entire day, which is 4 matches. I had access to an indoor lounge with free drinks and food, so I hung out in their periodically to relax and see the ends of some of the other matches on TV. There are about 18 court's at the complex, and all but 4 do not require anything other then the fairly inexpensive entry ticket. It is nice to go and just walk around the complex. A very beautiful place, as can be seen in the pictures.



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Culture | Sports

Comments (5) -

6/11/2015 5:56:41 AM #

Hard to top that nice day.  You look like a turn of the century French painter in the hat with the facial hair.  Deuce is the nickname for the devil, maybe that is it, especially on a blazing hot day when your opponent ties the game.


6/11/2015 5:07:32 PM #

Great comment.

Nice day's are too far and few. We need to enjoy every one, like it is our last.


Oliver McGrath United States
11/16/2016 7:39:05 PM #

Hi there, I check your blogs on a regular basis. Your humoristic style is awesome, keep up the good work!


Kylie Lambert United States
1/7/2017 8:24:00 PM #

Thank you, I've just been looking for information approximately this subject for a while and yours is the greatest I have discovered till now. However, what concerning the conclusion? Are you sure concerning the source?


1/13/2017 1:51:56 AM #

Kylie, I don't understand your questions and would need more specific information to answer them.

The source is my own feelings through both research and being there. I try to use reputable sources in my research, but it is possible that some of my history is controversial.


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