Years ending in “9” at Roland-Garros

 - Elodie Iriart

A look back at years ending in "9" at Roland-Garros

Mur terre battue Roland-Garros©Cedric Lecocq / FFT

Years ending in “9” have often proved to be iconic, memorable and triumphant.

With 90 years having gone by since Roland-Garros 1929, we take a trip back in time and bask in the ambiance of the prestigious Parisian tournament by looking at the highlights, fashion trends and memorable stories from those specific years.

Helen Wills Moody.© DR

Roland-Garros 1929

A year that saw the end of the Années Folles, France’s Roaring Twenties, as Black Thursday (29 October) triggered the Wall Street Crash and plunged the world into the greatest economic crisis it had ever known.

Meanwhile, at Roland-Garros:

-   France’s legendary Four Musketeers came together in the men’s doubles final, with René Lacoste and Jean Borotra getting the better of Jacques Brugnon and Henri Cochet.

-   Lacoste saw off Borotra to claim the men’s singles crown.

-   In the women’s competition, Helen Wills lifted the trophy for the second year running.

-   What they wore: It was pleated skirts, visors and cardigans all the way for the women. Among the men, the Four Musketeers embodied the style of the Roaring Twenties better than anyone. Borotra sported a baggy white shirt with sleeves occasionally rolled up, a Basque beret and espadrilles, while Lacoste, complete with a cap, wore a large white V-necked pullover with striped cuffs away from the court.  

Marlene Dietrich, 1938 (à droite, lors de la finale dames opposant Simonne Mathieu à Nelly Landry).©Droits réservés-FFT

Roland-Garros 1939

France found itself at war as the Second World War broke out. Legendary French singer Edith Piaf was at the peak of her career.

Meanwhile, at Roland-Garros:

-   A future French Army captain, the talented Simonne Mathieu won the women’s singles for the second year running.

-   In the men’s singles, the USA’s William Donald McNeill claimed his one and only Roland-Garros title.

-   What they wore: Shorts became the garment of choice among the men, while culottes or divided skirts took over from the pleated skirt among the women, who matched them up with polo shirts and knitted sleeveless pullovers.

Margaret Osborne DuPont et Nelly Landry, finale Roland-Garros 1949 / Margaret Osborne DuPont and Nelly Landry, Roland-Garros final 1949.©Adolphe Morin-FFT.

Roland-Garros 1949

The year of France’s first televised news bulletin. Boxer Marcel Cerdan was killed in a plane crash.

Meanwhile, at Roland-Garros:

-   The USA’s Frank Parker beat compatriot Budge Patty in the men’s singles final.

-   The women’s singles title went to Margaret Osborne duPont, also of the USA.

-   What they wore: The men sported shorts and T-shirts on the court and slipped on knitted V-necked sweaters with striped cuffs off it.

Roland-Garros 1959

French cinema’s Nouvelle Vague was born, as was John McEnroe.

Meanwhile, at Roland-Garros:

-   Christine Truman-Janes lifted the Roland-Garros women’s singles title at the age of 18, becoming the youngest ever winner of the tournament.

-   Italy’s Nicola Pietrangeli won the first of his two Roland-Garros men’s singles titles.

-   What they wore: The women wore baggy shorts and short pleated skirts, and the men polo shirts that were tighter on the body. Dresses and shorts were growing shorter.

Rod Laver Roland-Garros 1969©Droits réservés / FFT

Roland-Garros 1969

Denim, bell bottoms and floral shirts were everywhere on the streets, Woodstock swayed its hips to the sound of rock, soul, folk and blues, man walked on the Moon for the first time, and the Open Era of tennis began (with the Australian Open 1969 being the last one to enter this Era).

Meanwhile, at Roland-Garros:

-   Australia’s Margaret Smith Court won’s the women’s singles crown.

-   Rod Laver beat Ken Rosewall in the men’s singles final.

-   What they wore: shorts and polo shirts, shortened skirts and sleeveless polos.


Björn Borg Roland-Garros 1979©JLD / FFT

Roland-Garros 1979

Pink Floyd ruled the airwaves, the Walkman was born, and the world suffered its second oil crisis.

Meanwhile, at Roland-Garros:

-   Bjorn Borg secured his fourth Roland-Garros men’s singles title, equalling the then record, held by France’s Henri Cochet.

-   Chris Evert won the women’s singles title for a third time.

-   What they wore: Chris Evert epitomised 70s tennis style, while Bjorn Borg set a trend with his white pinstriped polo with dark blue collar, striped headband and long hair.

Steffi Graf Roland-Garros 1989©Liliane Chedikian / FFT

Roland-Garros 1989


The world wide web came into being and the Berlin Wall came down.

Meanwhile, at Roland-Garros:

-   Spain’s Arantxa Sanchez beat world number one Steffi Graf in a gruelling women’s singles final that lasted two hours and 58 minutes.

-   Michael Chang beat Stefan Edberg in the men’s final, after overcoming Ivan Lendl in the round of sixteen with the help of an unforgettable underarm serve.

-   What they wore: Street style hit the courts and the logo war broke out. Cuts were voluminous and outfits colourful, with graphic and geometric motifs very much to the fore. Agassi encapsulated the trend with his iconic grunge look, stonewashed denim shorts and unkempt long hair.

-   The official tournament poster: Abstract and full of colour, the tenth official tournament poster was designed by the artist Nicola De Maria and contained, for the first time, nothing related to tennis.

Roland-Garros 1999

In a year in which the world was gripped by fears of the Millennium bug and global apocalypse, Britney Spears had a smash hit with Baby One More Time, Next Gen members Denis Shapovalov and Alex de Minaur were born, and Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi became an item.

Meanwhile, at Roland-Garros:

-   Andre Agassi finally won Roland-Garros, becoming only the second player after Rod Laver to win all four Grand Slam titles.

-   Steffi Graf beat Martina Hingis in an astonishing women’s singles final.

-   What they wore: Out went cotton, to be replaced by nylon and synthetic fabrics, with geometric motifs still very much in evidence. Agassi struck a more sober look with his shaven head.

-   The official tournament poster: Antonio Segui was entrusted with its design. For the first time it showed the umpire’s chair, with engrossed spectators providing the backdrop.

Roland-Garros 2009


Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, died, and the film Avatar was released.

Meanwhile, at Roland-Garros:

-   Roger Federer won his one and only Roland-Garros title to date, the 14th Grand Slam win of his career

-   Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova claimed the women’s singles crown

-   What they wore: A sober, classic look prevailed on the courts, in the shape of understated and largely unoriginal two-tone outfits. Federer stayed true to himself and his reputation, winning the tournament with an elegant and effective polo and shorts combo.

-   The official tournament poster: The artist Konrad Klapheck designed the 2009 poster, a low-angle shot of a tennis court.

Kristina Mladenovic Roland-Garros Jupe©Cedric Lecocq / FFT

Roland-Garros 2019

The year of the Women’s Football World Cup in France, the Notre Dame fire, Julian Alaphilippe in yellow at the Tour de France, and soaring temperatures.

Meanwhile, at Roland-Garros:

-   Rafael Nadal made it Roland-Garros title number 12.

-   Australia’s Ashleigh Barty lifted the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen, succeeding her legendary compatriots Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Margaret Smith Court.

-   What they wore: Colourful designs and eclectic motifs are the order of the day, with lots of neon, animal prints, colour blocks, flowers, bees, and skulls and crossbones on show.

-   The official tournament poster: The 2019 iteration was designed by José Maria Sicilia. Based on an original collage, it is a lively, abstract and poetic piece.