New Roof, Lights At Roland-Garros To Help With Fall French Open Dates

The newly built roof and the central tennis court by Philippe Chatrier in the Roland Garros stadium in … [+] Paris. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP via Getty Images)

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The pandemic forced the relocation of the French Open in Roland-Garros from May to the end of September and made the completion of a new roof over Philippe-Chatrier-Platz, the largest stadium at the Paris location, all the more important.

With the smallest footprint of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the French Open were also the only ones of the four without a retractable roof over a square. However, the new roof on Philippe-Chatrier, completed in time for the original French Open dates, could prove important in keeping at least one game going regardless of the weather when the tournament’s main draw begins on September 27th.

“This roof adds a whole new dimension to the tournament,” says Bernard Giudicelli, President of the French Tennis Federation, “by ensuring that the game can continue while creating constant playing conditions, especially from the quarter-finals.”

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The outside of Philippe Chatrier’s central tennis court at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris. … [+] (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP via Getty Images)

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The new roof, with its 11 panes on 11 trusses weighing 363 tons each, spans 344 feet and covers the red clay underneath with canvas. It took two years to manufacture the trusses in workshops near Venice and a month to set up an assembly plant in the stadium. The eight-month process of assembling the trusses, acoustic panels and canvas was completed in 2020.

TENNIS FRA PHILIPPE CHATRIER ROOF HEALTH VIRUS

The newly built roof and the central tennis court by Philippe Chatrier in the Roland Garros stadium in … [+] Paris. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Each truss contains two gears driven by electric motors to close the roof in about 15 minutes.

“Achievement of this technical and architectural achievement is a source of great pride for our nation,” says Giudicelli. “This great tool shows our daring and our relentless desire to build and innovate.”

In addition to the new roof for Philippe-Chatrier, lights appear for the first time at Roland-Garros. Originally planned for the four largest places before the outbreak of the pandemic, the organizers have since strengthened and illuminated 12 places for the tournament in order to be able to play longer on the shorter autumn days.

Roland-Garros Paris French Open

The Philippe-Chatrier tennis court with its retractable roof is depicted from a balloon. (AP … [+] Photo / Christophe Ena)

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Philippe-Chatrier, the largest stadium on the Paris property, was demolished just hours after Rafael Nadal defeated Dominic Thiem in the men’s final in 2018, to be rebuilt for the 2019 tournament. The new stands improved comfort and visibility for up to 15,000 guests, although capacity will be limited in 2020 for health reasons during the pandemic. The conversion of the seat shell gave the players a new space under the stadium, including more space for changing rooms, a warm-up room, a players’ restaurant with its own deli and a tunnel that leads directly to the Suzanne-Lenglen square.

Also new in 2019, Roland-Garros opened the Simonne-Mathieu farm in the southeastern part of the site near the Serres d’Auteuil gardens. The third largest stadium on the Roland-Garros site with 5,000 seats is surrounded by four greenhouses that are inspired by the architecture of the adjacent historic Formigé greenhouses. The semi-submerged nature of the square design encourages the stadium to blend in with the gardens and greenhouses that house collections of tropical plans from America, Africa, Oceania and Asia.

The Simonne Mathieu Court replaces the “bullring” of Court 1 and follows the courts of Philippe-Chatrier and Suzanne-Lenglen as the largest on site. Court 1 and 14 are the next largest event locations on site. Last year, the opening of the Fonds des Princes in the far west of the site was also welcomed with Courts 10, 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16. In 2018, the opening of court 14 was joined with courts 10 to 13 as competition courts. The dishes 15 and 16 are for practice only.

In addition to the new roof and lights, Courts 2 and 3 will also open in 2020. In 2021, the new courts 6 and 8, the development of new green spaces and the Place des Mousquetaires will round off the renovations in Paris with a history spanning over 90 years and a future modernized by upgrades.

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