Roland Garros

When Roland-Garros was called Open Vanaos de France

Those who haven’t returned from Roland-Garros with a good sunburn should discard the first tube of Biafine. This is also the charm of the French tournament, this side of life is outdoors, nose winds, a good sunburn on it… We shouldn’t be needlessly surprised that the tournament at Porte d’Auteuil happened in 1972. He became the sponsor of the event, after a series of sunscreen and beauty products called Open Vanaos. No, but what are we writing? “No surprises…” ? But that’s for sure! You must be surprised. This title was scandalous! Here it is: the “International Open of Vanaos de France”. Vanaos? Instead of Roland-Garros! Wasn’t it like a bone?

1972 tournament poster (DR)

True, there was one. And a big one. In 1972, when the Federation’s finances were under water, its president, Philippe Chatrier, had agreed with great embarrassment to transfer the name of the tournament to this cosmetics company, which was actually a subsidiary of L’Oréal. It would partially fill a relatively embarrassing financial gap of 522,000 francs at the time, and would also allow them to place themselves on the same level of prize money as Wimbledon and Forest Hill (US Open). This is the first and only time in history that Roland-Garros will carry a sponsor name. While Americans are used to calling our old tournament the “BNP Open,” when compared to the ubiquitous core values ​​on television (the French say, too), Vanaos was going strong.

Philippe Chatrier, later president of a heavily indebted FFT.  (Set)

Philippe Chatrier, later president of a heavily indebted FFT. (Set)

We still distribute product samples through gracious hostesses at the gates of the stadium, but these marketing startups had a taste of disrespect for the goers. The France Internationals were crossed with rackets and luggage under the control of a commercial firm such as Australia Internationals, which later accepted invasive sponsorship of the Ford brand (the tournament would be called the Ford Australian Open from 1984 to 1994). This year 72 has been an absolutely hilarious vintage with Spaniard Andres Gimeno, who is a staggering winner, the oldest in history, 35 years old and newly bald, and has Patrick Proisy, who was twelve years his junior in the final. Another oddity is that the first two rounds were played to a best of three sets. The highlight to return to this famous sponsor Vanaos was that the weather was awful in Paris and there were no sunburns to worry about for fifteen days!

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