AS one of the world’s most prestigious tennis tournaments, one might expect the merchandise on offer at Roland Garros to be a Francophile’s dream, allowing spectators to take home a memory of their time watching the sport’s elite do battle on the red clay of Paris.
But in a curious if welcome promotion of all things Caledonian, a host of official clothing on offer to tennis fans at this year’s French Open is named after towns across Scotland.
Visitors to the competition’s website are being encouraged to snap up garments for all the family which are inspired by communities across the nation.
While the likes of Clydebank and Millport are not readily associated with the development of the sport, fans can purchase a skirt or a scarf named in their honour.
The official merchandise even eschews internationally known hubs such as Edinburgh and Glasgow in favour of smaller towns. Even so, there is not even a mention for Dunblane, the home of reigning US Open and Olympic men’s champion, Andy Murray.
Instead, tennis aficionados are invited to shell out for the likes of men’s Roland Garros polo shirts named after Alva and Armadale. Should a chill descend, they can wrap up courtesy of a Roland Garros Alloway hoodie.
Neither is the women’s collection immune from the odd Scottish theme. On offer is a pink Roland Garros Clydebank tennis skirt, Roland Garros Coalburn shorts and a red Roland Garros Callander trousers.
In the children’s range, meanwhile, there is a white Hawick vest, a Haddington cardigan, a Houston skirt and a Harthill t-shirt, all officially branded by the tournament.
Elsewhere, other towns featured on the clothing ranges include Bellshill, Carluke, Catrine, and Cumnock. The online retail portal also sells accessories such as a Roland Garros Millport scarf, a Kinross keyring, and Lanark and Langholm skip hats.
As is to be expected in the country of high fashion, buyers must meet a hefty price tag to don the wares. Prices for the goods range from £28 for a t-shirt, £53 for a hoodie, and a steep £16 for a keyring.
The history of the Auld Alliance notwithstanding, the bizarre decision to include so many Scots towns on the merchandise of a distinctly French tournament has puzzled many.
One tennis fan from Lanarkshire was among those to be left perplexed yesterday after logging onto the site.
“I saw the names on the website and was a bit confused as to what the association between places like Millport and Coalburn is to tennis gear,” explained Jim McDonald, a 48-year-old from Airdrie. “I’m not sure a lot of the French fans heading to the tournament would be too familiar with the names when they are purchasing the clothing.”
He added: “It’s bizarre to have these places connected with a glamourous tennis event in Paris.”
Another prospective buyer who was taken aback after browsing through the clothing said: “These places aren’t exactly known for being fashion hotspots. It seems strange but I suppose they could make nice souvenirs for Scots who come from the towns mentioned.”
The website describes itself as the Official Roland Garros online store, “home of the official Roland Garros prestigious merchandise, designed for Roland Garros tennis fans all over the world.”
The site is being operated by Manchester-based sportswear retailer Kitbag under licence from the organisers of the French Open.
Yesterday, customer service advisors who are taking orders for the clothing said they were unaware whether there was a Scottish connection, or if it was a coincidence.
One said: “These are just the names that have been given to the items, we are not sure why.”
David Hill, Kitbag’s product marketing manager and media contact, was unavailable for comment.
The second tennis Grand Slam of the season, which starts on 21 May, will see Murray go for his first title on the red clay against favourite Rafael Nadal and world number one Novak Djokovic.