New Delhi: The world's most romantic city, Paris, throws up one more reason to woo tourists from across the globe as it hosts the showpiece clay court event - the French Open. The Roland Garros stadium was built to celebrate the success of French Tennis. The four musketeers, Jacques Brugnon, Jean Borotra, Henri Cochet and Rene Lacoste won the Davis Cup beating the Americans on their home soil in 1927. However, France did not have a venue to host the Challenger round the next year and to accommodate huge crowds that were expected to turn up. Thus the authorities decided to build a new stadium and it was named after Garros, a World War I hero and the first aviator to fly across the Mediterranean Sea.
From just three courts in 1928 to now 23 courts, the Roland Garros stadium which is also known as Stade de Roland Garros has undergone massive expansions. The centre court is always the sanctum-sanctorum of any tennis stadium and the stunning Court Philippe Chatrier, which has been witness to many historic moments can accommodate close to 15,000 spectators. Its stands are named after the four musketeers named above. Court Suzanne Lenglen also offers a delightful viewing experience and has a capacity of 10,000. Lenglen was a French legend and won a whopping 31 Grand Slam titles.
The modifications and changes have enabled the stadium to fulfill the requirements of modern tennis. Recently, the French Tennis Federation unveiled plans of further expansion. The project, expected to cost 116 million Euros, will see a new centre court and the creation of a 14,600-seater arena around 500 metres from the current facilities. The arena will be equipped with a retractable roof that will enable play to continue during rain and allow matches to take place at night.
Earlier this year there was this buzz that the French Open could move out of the Roland Garros as it needed more space to remain competitive with the three other major tournaments. The French Open’s facilities are spread over 21 acres (8.5 hectares), while Melbourne Park - the site of the Australian Open - and Wimbledon each have 49 acres (20 hectares). Flushing Meadows, the site of the U.S. Open, has 34.5 acres (14 hectares).
However, it was later decided that the clay court Grand Slam will stay in Paris. It has been planned to renovate the existing site by making it considerably larger, more attractive and modern. According to the plan, the area will be increased from 21.3 acres to about 33.8 acres.
The new-look Roland Garros will feature 35 outside courts, a new press center and a center court with a retractable roof so that matches could go ahead when it’s raining, and where night sessions could be played.
Among the renovation options are a new adjacent stadium with a capacity of 8,000, and the use of other local infrastructure, such as the land at Stade Jean Bouin, where Stade Francais rugby club played its home games until the stadium was knocked down two years ago.