50 Years, 50 Heroes: Philippe Chatrier, 1985

by: Blair Henley | December 06, 2018

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For our sixth annual Heroes Issue, we’ve selected passages from the last 50 years of Tennis Magazine and TENNIS.com—starting in 1969 and ending in 2018—to highlight 50 worthy heroes. Each passage acknowledges the person as they were then; each subsequent story catches up with the person, or highlights their impact, as they are now. It is best summed up with a quote from the great Arthur Ashe, that was featured on the cover of the November/December issue of this magazine in 2015: “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”


A politician to some, an idealist to others, Chatrier is, in fact, a blend of the two—although his self-image nurtures  pronounced image for the poet. In his dozen years at or near the center of professional tennis, he has compiled an impressive list of achievements. As the closest thing tennis has to a czar, Chatrier has taken on the big issues and the big names. - Roger M. Williams / February 1985

“One day we will have to put a roof on this court,” Philippe Chatrier told his colleagues in the early 1990s as he looked out at a rain-soaked stadium court on the grounds of Roland Garros.

As with so many other things during his Hall of Fame career as a tennis administrator, Chatrier showed remarkable foresight. Nearly 30 years later, his prediction is becoming a reality with a roof currently being constructed over the court now named in his honor.

Born in Creteil, France, in 1928, Chatrier was a strong player, but it was in the boardroom where he had his greatest impact on the game. He presi-ded over both the FFT and the ITF, and among his many accomplishments, he helped resurrect tennis as an Olympic sport at the 1988 Seoul Games.

“He would be proud to see how his heritage has prospered and expanded,” says current FFT president Bernard Giudicelli of Chatrier, who passed away in 2000. “He deserves to be acknowledged in the legend of Roland Garros—one of the most beautiful stadiums in the world.”

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