Anyone who has had the good fortune to have attended any the four majors or watched them closely on television will see that each one is very different. By the way they are not Grand Slams, they are majors. To say “a Grand Slam etc, …” is being lazy. It is not even technically correct. A Grand Slam is when you put the four majors together, that creates a “Grand Slam”. We can’t be bothered trying to individualise them so we use the collective term to refer to each one.
This is terminology that the Americans began because they like to abbreviate everything, but that is another story and issue, while some felt by not calling them “a Grand Slam” their importance is somewhat diminished which is a lot of nonsense.
If the right phrasing had been handled from the start, such a situation would not have come about. Now, to change people’s mindset is a lost cause.
But back to the original subject matter.
We know each of the four majors are quite different; the casualness of the Australian Open, the style or couture of the French Open, or Roland Garros as they prefer, the more traditional aspects of Wimbledon – which in fact has not got the stuffiness that is generally perceived, it is more the “people’s tournament” unlike The Queen’s Club which is stuffy – and the brashness of the US Open, where if you ask someone how they are, there is a chance that the response will be “who wants to know?”
So, there was an interesting question put to me via my Twitter account, @crosscourt1, during Roland Garros and it asked if I thought that the “French Open is the most international of the four” majors.
It was not a term I had thought of when considering the four biggest events in world tennis but the more the idea was pondered the more I felt that is a very good way of describing the French Open. Absolutely it is very French in presentation but the style and presentation that surrounds it makes it feel international and places it on a pedestal.
With the event being in Continental Europe there is a greater variety of accents and languages that are heard. The French Open is also the only major to use a language other than English for many announcements which adds to the international flavour.
Getting to Paris for Roland Garros is easier in that there are so many different countries bordering France that you have that international flavour. When you look at the President’s Box on Court Philippe Chatrier there is a greater array of nationalities attending compared to the other three.
It is not so easy to put a finger specifically on that international feel but to be here and wonder around the grounds you get that vibe… it’s just there.
By comparison Wimbledon no doubt garners the most attention of the four majors because of the historical aspect and the intimacy that it possesses, there is a different very full, deep sound when racquet make contact with ball, but that international spread is not quite there, it is more localised.
The US Open is just too big to be able to capture any sort of international feel. The brashness and loud volume of things just does not lend itself to that wider feeling – the US Open is New York. And then there is the Australian Open which is probably a bit too far to be truly international. There has been a push for the Asian market and that is great but it still feels more localised.
As mentioned, each of the four majors has their only feel and personality and that is great for the sport, but taking all that into consideration, the French Open does come across as the most international of the four majors.