Simonne Mathieu: the war heroine who gives the name to the new Roland Garros track

Simonne Mathieu was twice winner of the Parisian tournament after having two children and left the tennis to command a female body of volunteers in World War II.


Roland Garros premiered a new track on Sunday in the southern part of the renovated tournament complex. He did it with a match between Garbiñe Muguruza and Taylor Townsend, who won the Spanish, and gave away the attendees (can accommodate up to 5,000 spectators) a beautiful commemorative bag with the figure of the tennis player who gives its name to the installation, Simonne Mathieu. Inside, a booklet that tells the interesting story of a modern woman for her time, who compacted sport with motherhood and a sense of responsibility that led her to enlist as a volunteer in World War II.

Simonne Mathieu (Neully-sur-Seine, 1908-Chatou, 1980), which owes double 'n' of his name to an error of his father when registering his birth, is considered in France an indispensable figure of tennis and the great Historie (great history) of the country. She had fragile health as a child and was advised to practice some sport. He chose tennis influenced by his brother Pierre and began to stand out at 15 years old. The press immediately echoed the accuracy of its natural blow. In 1925, he participated for the first time in the International of France (Roland Garros) and he married very early, at age 17, with René Mathieu, son of one of the founders of the Stade, a club that still includes many sports, among them the one of the racket and creator of the magazine Smash. The marriage had two children in 1927 and 1928 and Simonne combined the maternity with the trainings and the parties like a modern woman for the time. He traveled the world until in 1938, after having lost six finals before, he won the first of his two titles in Paris (the other one lifted him the following year), with a triplet completed in doubles and mixed. He was also a six-time Wimbledon semifinalist, all before World War II, where he started his other story.

Volunteer in England

At the height of his career, Simonne left the US Open (then US National Championships) when he learned that the War had been declared in Europe. He embarked in New York bound for England and following the call of General Charles de Gaulle inviting the French to "resist." At the age of 32 he joined the Free French Forces, organized, formed and commanded a female body of volunteers. A on her return, in 1944, she was captain of the FFL, and arbitrated the party of the Liberation in Roland Garros dressed in military. The years spent far from France and in the middle of war, prevented her from retaking her path as a player, because during a bombardment in 1941 suffered a pleural detachment that caused permanent pulmonary problems. But he never left the fields. He wrote in Smash and directed the French women's Davis Cup team. "We wanted the stadium to have an identity that will embody audacity, honor and friendship. The Simonne Mathieu is a timeless, irreducible personality, unique in its kind," said Bernard Giudicelli, president of the French Federation.



Photos from as.com

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