After many delays, the Administrative Court sanctioned the building permits for renovation and extension of Roland Garros in February, which may now be completed in due course. As of 2020, the French Open will enjoy a grandiose setting worthy of the glorious history of the tournament and its ambitions.
Since its creation in 1925, the French Open established itself as the most prestigious tennis tournament on clay courts in the world. The courts of Roland Garros and their ochre surfaces, as elegant as they are demanding, have been witness to the writing of some of the best pages of tennis history. A few years ago, the French Tennis Federation launched the project for the “New Roland Garros”, which aims to include the tournament in the path of innovation and modernity while adding to the prestige of the history, heritage and elegance of this legendary place. “It was time to act,” affirmed Guy Forget, Director of Roland Garros. “Today, the tournament is no longer up to the standards of what our audience — players, spectators, media, partners — expect. We must remain competitive so that the best players still want to come and that the world’s media outlets wish to cover our tournament.” The first major line of the project is the expansion of different areas of the enclosure. “The stadium needs more room to accommodate everyone’s movements,” explains Guy Forget. The current Place des Mousquetaires, which has become too cramped, will take on a new dimension, transforming into a vast, nearly one-hectare green esplanade at the heart of the stadium. Truly a place to breathe, it will improve the presentation of the entire enclosure during the two weeks of Roland Garros, but also the neighbourhood, as it will be open to the public outside of the competition period. The players will also have a vast new competition area with the redevelopment of the Fonds des Princes. It will be expanded to seven courts, one of which able to seat 2,200 people, with permanent terraces and all accessible via a wide landscaped alley. Partners, whose support has allowed the tournament to be held each year, will enjoy a high-class reception in the purest tradition of elegance and prestige of the Roland Garros tournament. The new public relations spaces planned for the building are expected to feature, in particular, a panoramic terrace and suspended gardens, while the new version of the partner village will offer personalised rooms to welcome VIPs. The expansion of the historic site into its surroundings with the creation of a new court in the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil, unique in the world and with a capacity of nearly 5,000 seats, constitutes the second line of the project. The challenge is to erect this new structure, devoted to replacing court No. 1, in perfect synergy with the garden it will be built in, but also with the historic part of the stadium. For Guy Forget, there’s no doubt: “The building site will be controlled and respectful, and the result grandiose.” The semi-underground court will only impinge on the technical and warm greenhouses, which are of no particular architectural significance. Better still, it will be in perfect keeping with its new environment and will not obstruct visitors’ view of the garden, who will only see four new glasshouses in the centre of which it will be set. A unique architectural feat to match the beauty of sport with that of nature. The third major line concerns the Philippe-Chatrier court, the renovation of which will see new spaces for players and the media, more comfortable terraces, but also and especially the installation of a retractable roof. “It is necessary to have modern equipment so that the tournament maintains its ranking and continues to charm all of its guests,” explains Guy Forget. In order to avoid reliving days like 30 May 2016, when not a single ball was played due to incessant rain, such infrastructure appears necessary. In addition to the promise of a minimum number of matches, the roof provides organisers the possibility of planning night sessions, highly valued by broadcasters and viewers for their particular atmosphere. Thanks to these improvements, the Roland Garros tournament will continue its tradition of excellence and strengthen its identity. The Parisian Grand Slam has a spirit and a charm that distinguishes it from other major tournaments and provides a contrast to the prevalent trend of enormity. A singularity which will be magnified by the construction project. The “New Roland Garros” will also allow the French Tennis Federation to increase revenue, particularly with regards to ticketing and television rights. As we know that the tournament now represents 80% of the FFT’s annual earnings, which was able to dedicate 380 million euros to French tennis in the last decade, one can see the importance of the project. More than a stadium, it is the future of French tennis that is being built.