The prestigious Yonex French Open is an annual event held in France since 1909. Classified as a Super 750 tournament, the prize money at the tournament is structured at $750,000. The tournament was promoted to become part of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Super Series in 2007, making it one of the 12 major badminton tournaments in the world. BWF categorised the tournament as one of the five BWF World Tour Super 750 events as per the new BWF events structure since 2018.
India has always developed quality badminton players through the years and continues to do so. However, it hasn’t always been a happy outing for the Indian shuttlers in Paris.
India has a victorious past especially in the men’s singles category at the French Open. Kerala-born Vimal Kumar is the first Indian to have won the title for two consecutive seasons in 1983 and 1984. Currently serving as the Director of the Prakash Padukone Academy in Bengaluru, Kumar has trained the likes of Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap.
Another shuttler who rose to fame was Siddharth Jain, after winning the title in 2000. And the following year, another Indian, Abhinn Shyam Gupta, took home the title. This was followed by a long drought of titles until Srikanth Kidambi won it in 2017. He won in straight games against Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto.
Arjuna awardee Aparna Popat remains to be the lone Indian woman to have ever won the French Open two decades ago in 1988. Despite an era of a resurgence in the sport through women's badminton, the title seems to be out of the grip of Indian shuttlers.
The last few decades saw India produce two of the finest female badminton stars in Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu. Although both have conquered the world of badminton, the coveted French Open has never ceased to disappoint these superstars for some reason or the other. Both of them seem to be going through a rough patch right now, but looking at the quality both possess, this just might be the year when one of them wins it.
The first Indian to win this tournament was in 1956 when A.C. Bahree partnered up with C.L. Yap of Malaysia to lift the maiden trophy in the men's doubles event. However, the French Open constantly remained a major challenge for the Indian shuttlers until 1983 when the pair of Partho Ganguli and Vikram Singh won the crown.
Since then, many quality pair-ups tried but have failed to win the title. India has not yet managed to make an impact in the women’s doubles or mixed doubles category since the inception of the tournament.