From 8 to 16 April 2023, the Monte-Carlo Country Club will host one of the oldest and most prestigious clay court tennis tournaments, the Rolex
Monte-Carlo Masters (ATP Tour).
An Exceptional Tennis
On 2 April
1893, the Principality's first Tennis Club was founded, the "Lawn
Tennis de Monte-Carlo", built on the cellars of the Hôtel de Paris.
In 1897, the first tennis tournament in Monegasque history took place in
the Principality. At the time, the club hosting the competition was called the
Monaco Lawn Tennis. From the outset, the tournament included men and women in
two categories. There were open, doubles and handicap tournaments. The first
years, in fact, were dominated by the Doherty brothers, two Britons who had
excelled at Wimbledon.
Until 1905, then, the tournament was played behind the Hotel de Paris
before moving, in 1906, to la Condamine, with the Club gaining an extra court,
an archery range, and a croquet pitch. It was the first year that the men’s
draw exceeded 16 entries with 18 players.
1914 marked the first entry by one Suzanne Lenglen, the English woman
dubbed "the Divine" who largely dominated exchanges on the ochre
courts of the Principality between 1919 and 1926.
At the start of the 20s, the tournament relocated to the roof of
Auto-Rivera, a garage in Beausoleil. This would be its penultimate move.
It was with the arrival of George Butler, an American who had made his
fortune in cigarettes, that a major step would be taken. A tennis fanatic,
George Butler campaigned for a long time with the Société des Bains de Mer for
the construction of a large-scale tennis facility, which would thus be in line
with the Principality’s image.
The Club was officially opened with grand ceremony in February 1928, by H.S.H. Prince Louis II of Monaco, in the presence of royalty including King Gustav V of Sweden, the Duke of Connaught, Prince Nicholas of Greece, Grand Duchess Elena and Grand Duke Andrei of Russia. Now with a basement sports hall, changing rooms for professionals, as
well as three courts more than at the beginning, the Tennis Club provided improved
facilities for its champions as well as the public every year. For in the not so distant past, it was the Club members who lent their
changing rooms to the players.
Ten months later, it was renamed: "Monte-Carlo
It was not until 2006 that Monte-Carlo Country Club joined forces with the famous watchmaking house, giving the tournament its present name, the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
The Open era
At the beginning of the Open era in 1969, professional players took part and the tournament was among the most prestigious events. It is now part of the Masters 1000. Unlike other tournaments in this category, the top thirty players in the world are not required to take part, although most choose to do so.
The women’s tournament was organised in the 1960s and 1970s. Its last
edition was 1982.
The Rolex Monte-Carlo Tennis Masters, the first major tournament of the European season, brings together 56 players on clay courts in a straight knock-out format with six rounds.
Matches are played to the best of three sets, with a tie-break in each.
The doubles tournament is contested by 24 teams, or 48 players, in a
straight elimination tournament of five rounds. The teams include the top eight seeds who have a first-round bye.
Prince of the Monegasque clay
Rafael Nadal is the Prince of the Monegasque clay with 11 singles titles and one doubles trophy, well ahead of other illustrious names including Ilie Nastase, Bjorn Borg and Thomas Muster, with three titles each, and Novak Djokovic with two.
For the full list of previous winners, click here.
©Benjamin Vergély / montecarlotennismasters/ photo archives Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer / Fairmont Monte-Carlo / lifevents group