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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May 2004, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Magic moments
BBC Sport Interactive nominates the greatest moments in the history of the French Open.


1. 1926 final: Suzanne Lenglen v Mark K Browne

Suzanne Rachel Flore Lenglen was regarded by many as the best female player of all time, and her 1926 French Open final victory was her crowning glory.

She shocked the world with her dresses cut just above the calf and always entertained the galleries.

Suzanne Lenglen
Suzanne Lenglen: The good old days

This was never more true than against American Mark K. Browne in Paris. The match was the second quickest ever Grand Slam final, for Lenglen won 6-1 6-0 in 27 minutes.

Lenglen's tennis was supreme as she clinched her second successive French title, but not without a fuss.

She broke down in tears after just four games, and then sipped brandy between sets before taking the acclaim of a bewildered public.


2. 1956 final: Althea Gibson v Angela Mortimer

Tennis was barely ready to cope with the seismic change in culture and attitude brought about by Gibson, a rebellious child from New York's Harlem borough.

Althea Gibson
Courting controversy: Trail-blazing Althea Gibson
She was the first black player to compete in United States grass court tournaments, but her major breakthrough came at Roland Garros in 1956.

Several benefactors, such as boxers Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson, had helped pay for her air fare to Europe, and Gibson's "thank you" was a 6-0 12-10 win over Britain's Angela Mortimer in front of a hostile French crowd.

She was the first black athlete to win a major tennis singles title.


3. 1984 final: John McEnroe v Ivan Lendl

Those critics who felt John McEnroe was his own worst enemy had a field day during this match.

McEnroe had blazed his way through the tournament by swearing, arguing, driving balls at the photographers' pit, claiming he was on a "Haagen-Dazs" diet and requesting on-court repairs mid-match.

Brilliantly, he took a two-sets-to-love lead against Lendl in the final, but then indulged his temper once too often.

John McEnroe in a sit-down protest
Czech-mate? Not after this final
At 1-1 in the third, McEnroe objected to a cameraman's headset that was emitting the director's instructions and cast it aside.

Lendl held serve and then saved three break points later in the third set when McEnroe berated photographers.

McEnroe, who succumbed 5-7 in the fifth to Lendl, would never win the French Open, and he never had a better chance than that year.


4. 1995 third round: Jana Novotna v Chanda Rubin

Jana Novotna could stage her own competition for "choking" matches, but this occasion - and not the more infamous 1993 Wimbledon final against Steffi Graf - would prove unbeatable.

In a third-round match at the 1995 French Open, Novotna, a genuine and decent competitor, met American Chanda Rubin.

Jana Novotna
Not again Novotna: Jana cracks under the pressure
Novotna struggled to establish a 6-7 (8-10) 6-4 5-0 lead in an already-intriguing match. With Rubin serving at 0-5, the Czech then secured three match points at 0-40 on Rubin's serve.

Novotna could have played all day and night and she still would not have been able to close out the match.

Rubin saved the match points, then saved another six before emerging victorious 8-6. Novotna cried out in anguish and shed tears of desperation.

It made for unpleasant viewing but, from 0-5 0-40 down, Rubin had achieved the ultimate comeback.


5. 1999 final: Andre Agassi v Andrei Medvedev

Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf fell in love in Paris in 1999. It was fitting that their careers should also merge at Roland Garros.

Agassi had been beaten by Andres Gomez and Jim Courier in the 1990 and 1991 French Open finals respectively.

Andre Agassi
Awesome Andre: Agassi's global domination is on track
Critics said he would never add the French honour to those he had already secured at Melbourne Park, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadow in the 1990s.

Losing 1-6 2-6 and down a break in the third set to Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev in the 1999 final, Agassi's career looked over.

His desperation to complete the Grand Slam set sparked an unlikely, but thrilling, comeback.

Agassi took the next three sets 6-4 6-3 6-4 to became only the fifth player to ever win the four Majors.


6. 1999 final: Steffi Graf v Martina Hingis

An emotional year at Roland Garros got the better of most on the final Saturday.

Graf had not won a Grand Slam title since 1996 and, after overcoming a number of personal and health problems, she had stated her desire to win one more before retiring.

Hingis wanted the French after losing to Iva Majoli in the final two years previously.

Hingis took a one set lead but Graf secured a dramatic second set 7-5.

Martin Hingis
Swiss Miss: Hingis' outburst brings howls of derision from the crowd
Hingis tried all she could, even copying Chang's underarm serve of a decade ago, but the German closed out a fraught match 6-2 in the decider.

The Swiss star broke down in tears and stormed off court at the end, only to be hauled back on by her mother to accept the second place trophy.

Graf was serene throughout, even capturing the hearts of the Roland Garros audience. They had booed Hingis and cheered Graf.

"I feel French," said Graf.

She retired weeks later with a staggering 22 Grand Slam singles titles, and her romance with Agassi emerged shortly afterwards.



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