French Championships

The Friday Five: Hang it up Scud

By Maud Watson

Hang it up Scud – My apologies to any Mark Philippoussis fans out there. I don’t personally have anything against the guy, but when I read earlier this week that he’s considering the possibility of yet another comeback to the ATP World Tour, I had to shake my head. He claims his reasons for coming back are twofold: he has “unfinished business,” and he wants the money. The guy needs to face reality. He is struggling to beat Jim Courier and Pat Cash on the seniors tour, and it’s no disrespect to Courier and Cash. They’re great players in their own right, but they’re playing the seniors tour for a reason. If Flipper can’t hang with those guys, how does he ever figure he’ll make it into the Top 100 on the ATP World Tour? Maybe if he’d put the time in earlier in his career (which might have curbed his injuries) and managed his finances better, he wouldn’t be in this situation now. Cut your losses, Scud and move on.

Adieu Roland Garros? – It seems plans for a new center court with a retractable roof at the world’s second Slam event of the year have hit a snag according to French Tennis Federation (FFT) Director General Gilbert Ysern. The Paris mayor’s office is now expressing doubts about the project, mainly due to the opposition of green members within the city council. While the FFT is relatively confident the project will still be able to move forward, Ysern has also stated the FFT is prepared to move from the Roland Garros site if their plans are blocked. Given the historical significance of the site, which hosted the famous 1928 Davis Cup tie between the USA and France, and its ties to the famous French aviator whose name the complex bears, it would be a shame to see the site of the French Championships moved to a new location. That said, in an effort to keep up with the other Majors, as well as a few voices from Spain (a nation that has produced the champion at the French major six of the last 10 years) claiming they now have the facilities to host the clay court Grand Slam event, the FFT must be prepared to take whatever steps necessary. Fingers crossed they reach an agreement with the Paris city council.

Serena Sweeps – As if winning two majors, the WTA Tour Championships, and taking the No. 1 ranking weren’t enough, Serena Williams has managed to add one more accolade to her 2009 season. She has set a new record for most prize money won by a woman in a single season, with $6,545,586. Granted, she did win three of the biggest tournaments of the season, but if her prize money total is any indication, it would seem that the women’s tour is plenty healthy.

Under the Weather – Well, we all knew it was just a matter of time before swine flu hit the tennis community, and it finally did this week in Basel. German Tommy Haas was forced to withdraw from the tournament when he tested positive for the H1N1 virus. With the way things can often travel quickly throughout the locker room, tournament organizers and fans alike will hope this is just an isolated incident, especially with the ATP World Tour Championships just around the corner. And here’s wishing a speedy recovery to Haas, who has put together a great season!

Good-Bye Fred, Hello Adidas – Britain’s Andy Murray is back with a vengeance this week in Valencia, showing little mercy to the opposition in his return from injury. And while Andy Murray is undoubtedly happy to see his game back on track, he has even more to smile about with the new multi-million dollar deal that he just signed with Adidas. Murray will be trading in his Fred Perry duds for the three-striped brand beginning in January. Now wouldn’t it be ironic if he won Wimbledon in 2010?

World’s Biggest Loser

One of the many charms of Wimbledon is the numerous tabloid headlines and storylines during The Championships. Back on this day, June 26, in 2000, the U.K.’s Daily Mail labeled Vince Spadea as the “World’s Biggest Loser” after he finally broke his ATP record 20-match losing streak in the first round of Wimbledon, beating Britain’s Greg Rusedski in the first round. Screamed the Daily Mail headline after Rusedski’s 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 6-7, 9-7 loss to Spadea, “Rusedski Falls To World’s Biggest Loser.” Spadea, however, has proved to be far from a loser as the 34-year-old veteran qualified this year at Wimbledon (his 14th appearance) and reached the second round, losing to Igor Andreev. The book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennishistorybook.com) chronicles the Spadea-Rusedski match – and others – in the June 25 excerpt below.

2000 – Vince Spadea breaks his ATP record 21-match losing streak by upsetting No. 14 seed Greg Rusedski of Britain 6-3, 6-7, 6-3, 6-7, 9-7 in the first round of Wimbledon. Entering the match, Spadea is winless on the ATP Tour since the previous October in Lyon, France. Says Spadea, “If I had lost this match I was thinking: ‘Holy goodness! I am going to have to stay in Europe until I win a match. But here I am, six months on. It was worth the wait.” The following day, Rusedski is greeted with the headline in the Daily Mail reading, “Rusedski Falls To World’s Biggest Loser.”

2002 – Seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras plays what ultimately becomes his final Wimbledon match, losing in the second round – unceremoniously on the Graveyard Court – Court No. 2 – to lucky-loser and No. 145-ranked George Bastl of Switzerland 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4. Bastl, who enters the match having won only one main draw grass court match in his career, only gains entry into the tournament when Felix Mantilla of Spain withdraws the day before the tournament begins. Despite the loss, Sampras tells reporters after the match that he would return to the All England Club to play again, but after his U.S. Open triumph later in the summer, he never plays another professional match. “You know, I’m not going to end my time here with that loss,” Sampras says after the match. “I want to end it on a high note, and so I plan on being back… As long as I feel like I can continue to win majors and contend, I’ll just continue to play.” Says Bastl, “It’s a nice story isn’t it? I gave myself chances because I was practicing on grass for the last three weeks. I had won my last three matches and I knew my game was improving match by match. I felt I would have some sort of a chance.”

1951 – On a cold and rainy afternoon, Althea Gibson walks on to Centre Court at Wimbledon as the first black player to compete in The Championships. Ten months after becoming the first black player to compete in a major when she played the U.S. Championships the previous summer, Gibson wins her first match in her debut Wimbledon, defeating Pat Ward of Great Britain 6-0, 2-6, 6-4. Reports the Associated Press of Gibson, “Although the tall Negro girl is unseeded, she convinced the British experts that she has the equipment to rank high in the world within another year or two.”

1962 – Eighteen-year-old Billie Jean Moffitt beats No. 1 seed Margaret Smith 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 in the opening round of Wimbledon, creating history as the first player to knock of the women’s No. 1 seed in the opening round at the All England Club. Smith is the heavy favorite to win the title after winning the Australian, Italian and French Championships entering the tournament. Billie Jean, who goes on to win six singles titles at the All England Club– and a record 20 titles overall at Wimbledon. Writes Bud Collins in The Bud Collins History of Tennis, “Her victory established ‘Little Miss Moffitt’ as a force to be reckoned with on the Centre Court that already was her favorite stage.”

1965 – Manuel Santana becomes the first defending champion to lose in the first round of Wimbleodn when he is defeated by Charlie Pasarell 10-8, 6-3, 2-6, 8-6. Writes Fred Tupper of the New York Times of the Pasarell’s upset of the No. 1 seed, “Over 150 spine-tingling minutes this afternoon, the Puerto Rican was the better tennis player, stronger on serve, more secure on volley, and rock steady in the crises.” Says Santana, “Charlito was good.He was fast and hit the ball hard.”

1978 – Bjorn Borg performs a first-round escape on the opening day of Wimbledon as the two-time defending champion staves off elimination by six-foot-seven inch, 220-pound Victor Amaya of Holland, Mich., prevailing in five sets by a 8-9, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 margin. Amaya, who wears size 15 sneakers, leads Borg two sets to one and 3-1 in the fourth set and holds break point in the fifth game to go up two breaks in the fourth set. “He played better than I did on the important points, and that’s always the difference in a five-set match,” says Amaya. “He came up with great shots like that on crucial points, and that’s why he is great.”

1998 – After no victories in 17 previous matches, including a 6-0, 6-0 loss 10 years earlier in the final of the French Open, Natasha Zvereva wins her first match against Steffi Graf, defeating the German 6-4, 7-5 in the third round of Wimbledon. Graf is hampered by a hamstring injury and is playing in only her fifth event of the year after recovering from knee surgery.

2007 – In his last Wimbledon singles match, Justin Gimelstob makes Wimbledon history as the first player to use the “Hawk-Eye” instant replay system at the All England Club. In his 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 (3) first-round loss to Andy Roddick on Court No. 1 on the opening day of play, Gimelstob uses the Hawk-Eye system to challenge one of his serves in the first set. Says Gimelstob of his new status in Wimbledon history, “I’d like to have a few more important records, but I’ll take what I can get.”

1990 – John McEnroe is defeated in the first round of Wimbledon for only the second time in his career, as the 31-year-old three-time champion is sent packing by the hands of fellow American Derrick Rostagno by a 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 margin. McEnroe is joined on the sideline by newly-crowned French Open champion and No. 5 seed Andres Gomez, who falls to American Jim Grabb 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. “I’m going home to Ecuador and watch the matches on TV and pretend I never was here,” says Gomez. Future seven-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras is also sent packing in the first round by South African Christo van Rensburg, who defeats the No. 12 seeded Sampras 7-6, 7-5, 7-6.

1985 – French Open champion Mats Wilander of Sweden is dismissed in the first round of Wimbledon as six-foot-six, No. 77-ranked Slobodan Zivojinovic of Yugoslavia defeats the No. 4 seeded Wilander 6-2, 5-7, 7-5, 6-0.

2004 – The USTA names the 2004 U.S. Olympic tennis team during the same day that the Olympic flame is run through the All-England Club at Wimbledon. Named to the U.S. Olympic tennis team were Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, Taylor Dent, Vince Spadea, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Chanda Rubin, Lisa Raymond and Martina Navratilova.

Happy Birthday Mr. Tennis Encyclopedia

Bud Collins, the walking tennis encyclopedia and author of the definitive tennis book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS ($35.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennistomes.com) will celebrate his 80th birthday on Wednesday, June 17 – the same day that defending Wimbledon champion Venus Williams will celebrate her 29th birthday. Other events from June 16 and June 17 from the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennishistorybook.com) are excerpted below.

June 16

1974 – Two eighteen-year-olds – Bjorn Borg and Chris Evert – win their first major singles titles with final-round victories at the French Open in Paris. Borg comes back from two-sets-to-love down to defeat Manuel Orantes of Spain 2-6, 6-7, 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 to become the youngest winner of the French Open at the time. Evert encounters much less resistance in defeating her doubles partner Olga Morozova of the Soviet Union 6-1, 6-2 to become the youngest winner in Paris since Christine Truman in 1959. Evert wins an $8,000 first prize, while Borg takes home a $24,000.

1985 – Three weeks preceding his break-through victory at Wimbledon as an unseeded 17-year-old, Boris Becker sends a warning shot to the tennis world and wins his first ATP singles title at the Queen’s Club championships in London, defeating Johan Kriek 6-2, 6-3 in the final. Says Becker following his first victory, “It has been a dream for me when I was 10 to win a Grand Prix final. This week has been fantastic. I played my best tennis and beat a lot of good players.” Says Kriek of Becker and his chances at Wimbledon, “If he plays like that every day at Wimbledon, Becker can win the tournament.”

1975 – U.S. Open Tournament Director Bill Talbert unveils 11 new clay courts at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, Queens, N.Y., that will be used in lieu of grass courts for the 1975 US Open. “It will take a complete player to win the Open this year,” says Talbert. Asked how he would react to any player criticism of not playing the U.S. Open on the traditional grass courts, Talbert states, “This is the U.S. Open, which I consider the world’s major tournament and I believe that every player should consider it a privilege to compete in it regardless of what kind of courts we have. They should be willing to put it on the line for this championship.”

2000 – Michael Chang, the 1989 French Open champion whose baseline game never translated well on grass tennis courts, beats 18-year-old Roger Federer, the future five-time Wimbledon champion, 7-5, 6-2 in the quarterfinals of the grass court event in Halle, Germany.

2006 – Roger Federer nearly loses his first grass court tournament in three years, saving four match points in beating Olivier Rochus 6-7 (2), 7-6 (9), 7-6 (5) in the quarterfinals of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany. The win is Federer’s 39th straight on a grass court surface.

1991 – John McEnroe plays what ultimately is his final Davis Cup singles match, defeating Emilio Sanchez 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 as the United States closes out a 4-1 victory over Spain in the Davis Cup quarterfinal at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

1906 – The Doherty brothers – Reggie and Laurie – pair to defeat the American doubles team of Holcombe Ward and Raymond Little 3-6, 11-9, 9-7, 6-1 to clinch the Davis Cup title for Britain in the Davis Cup Challenge Round played at Wimbledon’s Worple Road courts. The win gives the Brits it fourth straight Davis Cup victory – and its second straight win over the United States in the Challenge Round. It also marks the end of the Davis Cup career of the popular Doherty brothers.

1985 – Pam Shriver needs only 43 minutes to defeat Betsy Nagelsen 6-1, 6-0 to win the singles final of the Edgbaston Cup in Birmingham, England. Nagelsen wins only 21 points in the entire match and says of Shriver, “She played much too well for me and there was little I could do about it.”

June 17

1980 – Venus Ebone Starr Williams, the sensational older Williams sister who, along with younger sister Serena, turn the tennis world on its head by taking their games from the urban streets of Compton, Calif., to Centre Court at Wimbledon, is born in Lynwood, Calif. Williams bursts on the scene as a 17-year-old wunderkind with beaded hair, reaching the final of the U.S. Open as an unseeded player ranked No. 66. Three years later, she is the champion of Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and singles and doubles gold medalist at the Sydney Olympics. In 2002, Williams becomes the first black player – man or woman – to be ranked No. 1 in the world. She and younger sister Serena play the first all sister major final since 1884 at the 2001 U.S. Open. During a stretch from the French Open in 2002 and the Australian Open in 2003, Venus reaches all four major singles finals, but loses all four finals to sister Serena.

1929 – Hall of Fame TV broadcaster, writer and tennis historian Arthur Worth “Bud” Collins is born in Lima, Ohio. Collins is best known for his work with the Boston Globe and with NBC Sports during its “Breakfast at Wimbledon” broadcasts from 1979 through 2007. An astute chronicler and tale teller of the history of the game, he is also known for his tennis encyclopedia – that most recent edition called The Bud Collins History of Tennis – not to mention his colorful wardrobe, featuring his trademark garish and bright-colored trousers.

1898 – In what became one of the most peculiar matches in the history of the U.S. Championships, Juliette Atkinson wins her third U.S. women’s singles title, coming back from a 3-5 final set deficit and saving five match points to defeat Marion Jones in the five-set women’s final 6-3, 5-7, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5 at the Philadelphia Cricket Club. During one of Jones’s match points, she loses the point as the ball in play strikes a stray ball on her side of the court. The New York Times describes the match’s conclusion in the following way; “The final set was the best of all. Five times during this set Miss Jones was only one point from the match and the championship but Miss Atkinson tied her and beat her out each time. In the ninth game of the set, a brilliant rally took place, which was spoiled by the ball in play hitting a ball lying in Miss Jones’s court. At that time Miss Jones needed but one point to win, and her supporters groaned as the chance faded away. The score at the time stood five games to three in favor of Miss Jones, but Miss Atkinson won the next four games and the match by fast playing. Both contestants were heartily congratulated for their plucky work.”

1939 – Don McNeill of Oklahoma City, Okla., upsets fellow American Bobby Riggs winning a stretch of 13 straight games in a 7-5, 6-0, 6-3 victory in the men’s singles final at the French Championships at Roland Garros. Says McNeill, “I never played better in my life.” Says Riggs, “Don just beat me.” The French Championships suffer a six-year hiatus following the 1939 edition of the event due to World War II and are not played again until 1946.

1911 – Hazel Hotchkiss wins her third straight U.S. women’s singles title, defeating Florence Sutton 8-10, 6-1, 9-7 at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in Philadelphia, Pa. The New York Times describes the match as one “replete with sensational features which kept the large crowd of spectators constantly on edge.” Hotchkiss institutes a tactic of lobbing at 7-7 in the third set that helped throw off the upset bid of Sutton, witnessed by approximately 1,000 fans. Hotchkiss also wins the mixed doubles title on this day, pairing with Wallace Johnson to defeat Edna Wildey and Herbert Tilden 6-4, 6-4.

2007 – Maria Sharapova’s semifinal match at the DFS Classic in Birmingham, England with Marion Bartoli is temporarily delayed twice when two spectators need medical assistance. A woman and a child fall down a staircase in the stadium, knocking the woman unconscious and requiring her to be flown via helicopter to a local hospital. Later, in another part of the stadium, a man faints. Sharapova wins the match with Bartoli 7-5, 6-0 and later in the day, loses the championship match to Jelena Jankovic 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Panatta’s First Win Over Borg

There was much talk of Adriano Panatta being the only player to ever beat Bjorn Borg at the French Open in lieu of Robin Soderling’s startling Sunday upset of Rafael Nadal – handing the four-time defending champion his first ever loss at Roland Garros. Borg won six French titles in eight appearances with Panatta ending the other two Borg runs. The first Borg loss happened on June 2, 1973 – as documented below from the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennishistorybook.com). Panatta’s other win came in the quarterfinals of the 1976 French Open, where he defeated the Swede 6-3, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 en route to the title. Panatta had another salient win on this day, back in 1976 as you will also read below. The following is the entire June 2 chapter of ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY.

June 2

1973 – Adriano Panatta of Italy ends the upset run of 16-year-old Bjorn Borg of Sweden in the fourth round of the French Open, beating the future six-time champion 7-6, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6. Borg, playing in his first major event, plays the event seven more times in his career and loses one other time – again to Panatta in the quarterfinals in 1976. Borg’s ring of upset victims in the tournament include No. 9 seed Cliff Richey of the United States in the first round, Pierre Barthes of France in the second round and Dick Stockton of the United States in the third round. Says Stockton of Borg after his 6-7, 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 loss, “He’s got a really great future ahead of him. He works really hard and is a dedicated player and he deserved to win.”

1962 – Rod Laver wins the second leg of his eventual “Grand Slam” sweep of all four major singles titles, coming back from two-set-to-love down to defeat fellow Australian Roy Emerson 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 9-7, 6-2 in the final of the French Championships. According to UPI wire dispatches of the final, “The last three sets were excellently played, and the fourth and fifth brought the 3,500 fans in Roland Garros Stadium to their feet cheering on a number of occasions.” Laver trails 0-3 in the fourth set, but rallies to take the extended fourth set before breaking Emerson twice to ride out the fifth set. The previous day, Laver finishes off a darkness delayed five-set semifinal win over fellow Aussie Neale Fraser 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, with the match being resumed at 2-2 in the fifth set. In the quarterfinals, in another all-Aussie affair, Laver saves a match point in a five-set win over Marty Mulligan. Nineteen-year-old Margaret Smith, herself who herself would capture a Grand Slam in 1970, wins the French women’s singles title, also defeating a fellow Aussie, Lesley Turner, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 in the final.

1994 – Steffi Graf is shockingly dominated in the semifinals of the French Open as native hope Mary Pierce of France crushes the world’s top-ranked player 6-2, 6-2. Says Graf, “There was very little I could do. She attacked the ball, took it early, played very deep and very hard and my level of game wasn’t enough to push her to make some errors.” Pierce advances into the final with the loss of only 10 games in six matches, but falls to Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the championship match.

1976 – Adriano Panatta, the No. 5 seed from Italy, saves a match point and survives a first-round scare at the French Open, defeating Czech Pavel Hutka 2-6, 6-2, 6-2, 0-6, 12-10. The match becomes crucial and significant in the annals of the French Championships as Panatta goes on to win the title, becoming the fourth man to win the singles title after trailing by a match point.

1982 – Two years removed for a bout of hepatitis that threatened his tennis career, Jose Higueras advances to the semifinals of the French Open with a  6-2, 6-2, 6-2 victory over top-seeded Jimmy Connors. Guillermo Vilas also advances into the semifinals with a 7-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Yannick Noah of France.

70 Years Ago Today – The Grand Slam Is Born

It was 70 years ago today – September 24, 1938  – that the “Grand Slam” was born as Don Budge completed the first sweep of all four major tennis championships in a single calendar year at the 1937 U.S. Championships. The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, due out November 1, On This Day In Tennis History ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.tennistomes.com) that outlines the historic occasion.

September 24

1938 – Don Budge achieves the first “Grand Slam” of tennis, when he defeats doubles partner and Davis Cup teammate Gene Mako 6-3, 6-8, 6-2, 6-1 in the final of the U.S. Championships at Forest Hills. At the beginning of the year, Budge made a sweep of all four major titles his secret goal for the year and one by one claimed all four tournament goals – the Australian Championships in January, the French Championships in June, Wimbledon in July and finally, the U.S. Championships. Writes Allison Danzig of The New York Times of the final “The book was closed yesterday on the greatest record of success ever compiled by a lawn tennis player in one season of national and international championships competition.” Mako, who also wins the U.S. doubles title with Budge, was the only player to win a set from Budge in the tournament. Their final is played in great spirits and with a high quality of play, despite the fact that many of the crowd of 12,000 is certain that Budge, the overwhelming favorite, would easily win the match. Writes Danzig, “The play was animated with friendly manifestations across the net whose contagion was communicated to the gallery, particularly in the third set when the crowd was roaring with mirth as the doubles champions trapped each other repeatedly with drop shots. But there was no holding back on either side and there was no trace of amiability in the scorching forehand drives with which Mako caught Budge in faulty position inside the baseline or the murderous backhand and volcanic service which Budge turned loose.” In the women’s final, Alice Marble defeats Australia’s Nancye Wynne 6-0, 6-3.

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Rafa’s Records

Rafael Nadal was simply devastating in his 6-1, 6-3, 6-0 victory over Roger Federer Sunday in the men’s singles final at the French Open. As the managing director of New Chapter Press, publisher of the new upcoming book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS (click here to pre-order for 39 percent off), we are making some last minute adjustments to the French Championships section of the tome.

For starters, Nadal’s win is the second most decisive victory in a men’s singles final at the French – Nadal giving up one more game than Guillermo Vilas did in his 6-0, 6-3, 6-0 win over Brian Gottfried in the 1977 French final. The title was Nadal’s fourth – tying him for second place with Henri Cochet – and two behind Bjorn Borg, who won six men’s singles titles. Nadal, however, did match Borg’s four successive victories (1978-1981) and his 28-match winning streak at Roland Garros. Nadal, as we all know, has yet to lose a match in the event, winning the title in his four attempts to win the event and obviously holds the record for best winning percentage at the event with 1.000. Federer also gains another line in the French Open records section, losing his third men’s singles final which ties the all-time men’s record along with Vilas (1975, 1978, 1982) and Jaroslav Drobny (1946, 1948, 1950).

One item to clarify which was incorrectly reported on American television regarding Borg and his record at Roland Garros. He did play the event eight times, winning six titles and losing to only one player – Adriano Panatta of Italy. Panatta beat Borg in the fourth round in 1973 by a 7-6, 2-6, 7-5, 7-6 margin and again in the 1976 QUARTERFINALS – not the final as reported more than once – by a 6-3, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6.

On to Wimbledon…

Chatrier – The Name That Permeates The French Open

One name that you are hearing – and will hear – more than perhaps any other during the duration of the 2008 French Championships is that of “Chatrier.” Who is Chatrier and why is his does his name grace the center court at Roland Garros? Bud Collins, tennis journalist and historian extraordinaire, in his soon to be released book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS, profiles Philippe Chatrier, the French tennis administrator who was instrumental in the resurgence of the French Championships as one of the world’s top events and the return of tennis to the Olympic program in 1988. (To pre-order THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS for a special pre-sale price of 39 percent off, click here)

As player, journalist and administrator, Philippe Charier, a Parisian, made a tremendous impact on the game, and was instrumental in its growth and success, particularly during the Open era. He was a good enough player to win the French junior titles in singles and doubles in 1945, play internationally for France, and later captained the Davis Cup team.

Serving dual roles as president of the French Federation of Tennis (1972-92) and the ITF (1977-91) he was largely responsible for the renaissance of the French Open, placing it on par with the other three majors and overseeing the splendid updating of Stade Roland Garros. He fought valiantly against over-commercialization of the game, and led a carnpaign to restore tennis to the Olympic Games, a goal realized in 1988 after a 64-year interval.

Championing the Grand Slam concept, he worked hard to ally the four major championships in staying at the pinnacle. He was also a member of the International Olympic Committee. An intelligent chronicler of the game, he was a Paris newspaperman, and founded one of the leading magazines of the sport, Tennis de France. The central court at Roland Garros is named for him. He was born Feb. 2, 1926, in Paris, and died there June 23, 2000.