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Steffi Graf & This Week in Tennis History

This week’s edition of This Week In Tennis History has a distinctive French flavour. Maybe it should be renamed ‘This Week in French Open History.’

June 2nd

1962 Rod Laver wins the second leg of his eventual Grand Slam of all four singles titles, coming back from 2 sets to love down to defeat fellow Australian Roy Emerson 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 9-7, 6-2 in the French Championships final [now known as the French Open].

2010 World No.1 Serena Williams suffers a shock 6-2, 6-7, 8-6 defeat to Samantha Stosur in the French Open quarter-finals.

2011 Li Na reaches her first French Open final, after beating Maria Sharapova 6-4, 7-5.

June 3rd

1967 Roy Emerson wins his 12th – and final – Grand Slam title, beating Tony Roche 6-1, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in the French Championships final.

1982 Andrea Jaeger defeats Chris Evert-Lloyd 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the women’s final of the French Open, handing Evert her 4th defeat on clay since August 1973.

2011 Roger Federer defeats Novak Djokovic in the French Open semi-finals, ending the Serbian’s 43-match winning streak and his chance to win the Calendar Grand Slam.

June 4th

1988 In the most lop-sided French final in history, Steffi Graf needs only 32 minutes to beat Natasha Zvereva, 6-0, 6-0. Zvereva won only 13 points in the match. Steffi went on to achieve the Golden Slam that year – winning all 4 Grand Slam titles and an Olympic gold medal.

2005 Justine Henin-Hardenne, seeded No.10, wins her 2nd French Open women’s singles title, defeating Mary Pierce of France 6-1, 6-1.

2011 Li Na becomes the first Chinese winner of French Open women’s title. She defeated the defending champion Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 7-6. 330 million people worldwide watched the match.

June 5th

1953 With his bag packed, ready for the next tournament, Bill Tilden is found dead in his hotel room in Los Angeles at the age of 60. The cause of death for the 7-time U.S. Men’s Singles champion is a heart attack.

1983 Yannick Noah becomes the first Frenchman in 37 years to win the Men’s Singles title at Roland Garros. He defeated Mats Wilander 6-2, 7-5, 7-6.

1999 29-year-old Steffi Graf claims her 22nd, and final, Grand Slam Singles title, beating Martina Hingis 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 at the French Open. Hingis served for the title at 6-4, 5-4 but Graf, inspired by the crowd chanting her name, breaks Hingis and wins 8 of the next 10 games. Following the loss, Martina leaves the court and, in tears, returns for the trophy presentation, in the arms of her mother Melanie.

2005 Rafael Nadal wins his first Major title at Roland Garros, defeating unseeded Mariano Puerta of Argentina 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 7-5. At 19 years-old, Nadal becomes the 4th youngest French Open Men’s Singles champion and he joins Mats Wilander as the only player to win the title on his debut.

2010 Francesca Schiavone becomes the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam title, defeating Samantha Stosur 6-4, 7-6 in the French Open final. She is only the 3rd Italian player to win a singles title after Nicola Pietrangeli and Adriano Panatta.

June 6th

1913 Fourteen months after being rescued from the Titanic, Richard Williams makes his Davis Cup debut defeating Stanley Doust 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 to give the United States a 2-0 lead over Australasia (Australia-New Zealand) in Forest Hills, New York.

1999 Andre Agassi becomes the 5th male player to win all 4 Grand Slams in his career after a dramatic 1-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 win over Andrei Medvedev in the French Open final. Agassi joins a select group of men that includes Fred Perry, Rod Laver, Don Budge and Roy Emerson. “This is certainly the greatest feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court, and I don’t think it’s even sunk in yet,” said Agassi in the post-match ceremony.

June 7th

1981 Bjorn Borg win his 6th French Open title and his 4th in a row when defeats Ivan Lendl 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1. The title is also Borg’s 11th Grand Slam title; it would end up being his last.

1998 Carlos Moya wins the French Open Men’s Singles title – his first Grand Slam. He defeated fellow Spaniard and close friend Alex Corretja 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.

2003 Justine Henin-Hardenne becomes the first Belgian player to win a Grand Slam title, defeating countrywoman Kim Clijsters 6-0, 6-4 in the French Open final.

June 8th

1996 Steffi Graf and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario play the longest women’s final ever at the French Open, before Graf wins 6-3, 6-7, 10-8 after 3 hours, 3 minutes. It is Graf’s 19th Grand Slam title and her 5th French Open.

1997 Gustavo Kuerten’s run at the French Open ends in victory as the 20 year-old Brazilian becomes the first man from his country to win a major title with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over 2-time Roland Garros champion, Sergi Bruguera.

2002 It was a family affair at the French Open women’s final as Serena Williams took on big sister Venus. Serena upstages the older Williams 7-5, 6-3 to win her first French Open title and become the first African-American woman to win the tournament since Althea Gibson in 1956.

2013 Serena Williams defeats Maria Sharapova to win her 2nd French Open, bringing her Grand Slam tally to 17. Much to the delight of the crowd, Williams gives her victory speech in French.

Eilis Brennan, Pundit Arena.

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