Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Many Faces of Roland Garros

I know there are a ton of problems with the Roland Garros site. I know it is tiny and squished and hard to get to and rubbish when it rains. And I know all this despite never having even been to France. So is it bad that I am super glad that the French Open is staying there?

Maybe I just sort of like tradition. The French Open has been at Roland Garros since the 1920s, after all, and that's a long time. Maybe I just couldn't adjust to calling the French Open Marne-la-vallee or Gonesse or Versailles - it's been Roland Garros for so long. I know that other Slams have survived moves before - Forest Hills and Kooyong are much quieter these days - but I feel oddly relieved that the French Open is going nowhere. Roland Garros is going to stay Roland Garros.

Not that the tournament would have moved for a few years anyway - the current arrangement expires in 2015. So I guess what we're going to see in the next few years will be a little like what we saw at Wimbledon when it was being renovated - a changing tournament, an evolving tournament. The many faces of Roland Garros. By the time 2016 rolls around, Roland Garros will be very different indeed.

They are putting a roof on Court Philippe Chatrier, to which I say THANK GOD, why didn't you do it before? Seriously, the roof is the best thing ever to happen to tennis stadiums EVER. And it guarantees good weather. You get a roof, I promise you'll hardly ever have to use it. Just ask Wimbledon. There's going to be no roof for Court Suzanne Lenglen, though, which seems silly. Surely there's some kind of 2-for-1 deal out there that they can take advantage of...?

The site is going to expand, bringing it up to 13 hectares - though if the locals have something to say about it, this won't happen, because it's taking over some of the nearby botanical gardens. So let's see how that one goes. There's supposed to be a new court built inside the gardens with 5,000 seats, but it sounds a little bit controversial, so I wouldn't be surprised if that was the first thing to go if any kind of bargaining goes on.

Though the French Open desperately needs a new show court. Like WHOA.

The one change that really does make me sad is the fact that the bullring court (Court #1) is going to be knocked down. I've watched a few matches on that court (televised, obviously, not actually!) and I really like the atmosphere. But I suppose we have to make some sacrifices. Wimbledon lost Court #2, Graveyard of Champions, and it still seems to be going strong. Stuff has to change. This is life.

But at least the whole site didn't change. Roland Garros is still going to be at Roland Garros, and I'm pretty happy about that.

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