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Monday, 05 May 2008

Sport in Paris - Page 2

Written by Matt Genner
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Watching rugby at the Stade Jean Bouin is like no other sporting experience. Only in Paris, a city which embraces individuality, can ten thousand people arrive to watch a rugby match dressed in pink replica shirts, waving pink flags and holding heart-shaped pink balloons.

Eric, our tour guide, began by taking us to Musketeer Square. “The Musketeers were four of France’s greatest tennis players. They made France the greatest tennis nation and Roland Garros is here because of what they achieved,” said Eric. He told us about their 1927 Davis Cup triumph over America, who were considered unbeatable. The reigning champions hosted the event the following year and the French Lawn Tennis Federation built Roland Garros to stage the cup. The Musketeers, Jean Borota, Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet and Rene Lacoste went on to win six straight Davis cup titles and the square is made up of a statue of each of them surrounding a model of the trophy.

Sport in Paris, Stade Jean Bouin, Tenniseum, Stade de France, Tour de France, FIFA World Cup, European Football Championships, Olympic games

Eric then took us through the media center to the players’ locker rooms. “The players have to come in the media center and give an interview, win or lose, after every game,” said Eric. “A few years ago Andre Agassi lost and refused to give an interview so he was fined €40,000.”

At the start of the tournament over 100 players use this tiny space. Walking around imagining the world’s top players getting ready in such close proximity to one another makes you think about the unique atmosphere of this tournament. It would be like American football teams getting ready in the same dressing room or two boxers training in the same gym.

Our tour finished at the Tenniseum which is divided into three sections - two temporary exhibition rooms: one looking at the media equipment used throughout the history of the French Open and one a gallery of photos from recent finals. By far the most interesting, though, is the permanent exhibition which looks at the history of tennis in France.

Sport in Paris, Stade Jean Bouin, Tenniseum, Stade de France, Tour de France, FIFA World Cup, European Football Championships, Olympic gamesThe exhibition begins with a look at Real Tennis, the predecessor of Lawn Tennis, which was first played in France during the sixteenth century. The first known book about tennis, Trattato del Giuoco della Palla, which was written in 1555 by an Italian priest, Antonio Scaino da Salo is on display.

At this time tennis was a sport played mostly by the upper classes of Parisian society. At the beginning of the twentieth century, as sport began to take a hold in the middle and working classes, the popularity of tennis began to spread, boosted no doubt by the success of the Musketeers, who each have their own section in the museum.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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