Paris | A year of innovation at Roland Garros

There are more innovations being introduced at the French Open this year, including new seating options for Court Simonne-Mathieu, the newest stadium opened in 2019 with 5,000 seats sunk 15 feet below the ground at Roland Garros.

This was the highlight of my life, so I feel very emotional being the Tournament Director while celebrating this date [30 years since Yannick Noah won Paris]. We decided to change the same of the charity day [to Yannick Noah Day], and we have prepared a wall fresco, representing his victory in 1983 and who he is.  Amélie Mauresmo, French Open Tournament Director

Fans with any ticket can experience one of the more distinct venues available at the clay court major in the stadium merged among the greenhouses and set within the botanical garden area of the site.

While 2021 marked the end to one beloved stadium, known as the ‘bullring’, and grounds were upgraded on the 18-court Roland-Garros site, the changes in 2023 will allow fans with any ticket to access the upper stands of Court Simonne-Mathieu as general admission seating.

“There will be around 2,000 seats and it will help people enjoy their experience here,” Amélie Mauresmo, the Tournament Director, said. “I am really looking forward to seeing how it goes.

“The idea is still to make sure fans have a great time and a unique live experience.”

12 courts now have floodlights, but the only dedicated night session in 2023 will still only happen on Court Philippe-Chatrier, the main stadium on the site that added its retractable roof in 2020.

New for this year, though, is that the night session start times will move up to 8 pm local time, 30 minute bump, which Mauresmo says will help create a more festive atmosphere, with an interactive show to kick off the session.

The smallest footprint of the four Grand Slams, the French Open enjoyed major upgrades through 2021.

On Court Philippe-Chartrier, the retractable roof uses 11 panes atop 11 trusses to span 344 feet, with the canvas covering able to close in about 15 minutes.

Original plans called for lights on the site’s four largest courts, but when the pandemic pushed the 2020 tournament from spring into fall, the French Tennis Federation expanded the lighting program to 12 courts to ensure the shorter autumn days could still host the early rounds of the tournament.


2,000 seats in the top tier of Court Simonne-Mathieu will be available to all ticket holders at Roland Garros this year

© Thomas Samson/AFP via Getty Images

The new roof and lights were not the only upgrades at Philippe-Chatrier, a venue that had been in place in some form on the site since 1928.

Following the 2018 men’s singles final, the stadium was demolished, and new stands built in time for the 2019 tournament, improving comfort and visibility for up to 15,000 guests.

The rebuild of the seating bowl allowed for a new space for players beneath the stadium, including more space for changing rooms, a warm-up room, player restaurant with its own delicatessen and a tunnel that leads directly to the site’s second-largest stadium, Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

The 2019 opening of Court Simonne-Mathieu in the southeastern part of the grounds near the Serres d’Auteuil gardens gives the site its third-largest venue.

It comes surrounded by 4 greenhouses, inspired by the architecture of the adjacent Formigé greenhouses.

The semi-sunken nature of the court design encourages the stadium to blend into the gardens and greenhouses that contain collections of tropical plants from America, Africa, Oceania and Asia.

By moving the new stadium away from the main venues, the setting offers fans a fresh perspective on the Roland-Garros grounds.

From 2018 through 2021 Roland-Garros also opened a mix of refurbished new courts, and the Place des Mousquetaires plaza.

Now, in 2023, fans of any ticket can experience a slice of Roland-Garros freshness with the 2,000 seats available at Court Simonne-Mathieu.


Another innovation is the announcement that the FFT will equip players participating in the 2023 French Open with an anti-online harassment AI tool called Bodyguard.ai.

This innovative technology will monitor and moderate comments received by players on their social media posts in real-time.

By effectively filtering out insults, threats, and hateful or discriminatory remarks made by anonymous trolls, the tool aims to counter the negative impact of online abuse.

Mauresmo says that the implementation of the AI tool will greatly benefit the mental well-being of the players as they will be able to focus on their performance and achieve their full potential on the court.

“It’s great for the mental well-being of the players,” Mauresmo said. “It clears the mind and will help everyone have a little more freedom on the court. I can’t wait to see how the players react to it.”

Bianca Andreescu expressed her appreciation of the AI tool to safeguard players, the Canadian taking to social media to applaud the French Open for its initiative.

Tennis Canada appointed Andreescu as their Mental Timeout ambassador, part of its mental health program to prioritise the overall well-being of tennis players across the nation and create a safe and inclusive environment.

As the ambassador, Andreescu’s role involves raising awareness about the importance of taking breaks and prioritising mental health as an athlete, while she also advocates the significance of mental well-being in sports.


Bianca Andreescu, Tennis Canada's Mental Timeout ambassador, praised the French Open for its AI tool to safeguard players on social media

© Elsa/Getty Images

Meanwhile, fans can download the newest version of the official Roland Garros app in order not to miss a minute of the action at Porte d’Auteuil, and make the very most of their on-site experience.

A must-have for tennis fans all year round, the Roland-Garros app allows them to stay up-to-date with tennis news thanks to its articles, videos and photo galleries.

During the tournament, it is an essential tool for anyone who wants to live the Parisian Grand Slam to the full, offering live scores, results, and the schedule, with detailed statistics for all participants, and to follow the progress of favourite players by signing up to receive notifications in the ‘Players’ menu.

Fans in the UK can follow the action on Eurosport, with live multi-court coverage of qualifying this week on Discovery+, available on mobile, tablet, laptop or desktop, for £6.99 a month or £59.99 a year.

The FFT announced earlier this month that prize money for this year’s Roland-Garros will total €49.6m, up 12.3 per cent on 2022.

With the aim of ensuring a more even distribution between players, the tournament organisers have significantly increased the prize money for 1st-round losers in the women’s and men’s singles draws, and the amounts awarded in the qualifying, wheelchair tennis and quad competitions.

Prize money for the singles draws will see an increase of 9.1 per cent on 2022, with losers in the first three rounds receiving between 11 per cent and 13 per cent more.

Following on from changes made in 2022, the organisers have also chosen to increase prize money for the three rounds of the qualifying competition, which will rise by an average of 11.8 per cent.

The allocation for this year’s wheelchair and quad tennis competition is EUR 810,000, equating to a 40 per cent increase on 2022, while prize money for the women’s and men’s doubles competitions goes up by 4 per cent.

There is a payday of £60,000 and the prestige of a Grand Slam main draw awaiting any player who can win 3 matches in qualifying.

The draw will be made at 1pm UK time in Paris on Thursday 25 May.


Yannick Noah triumphed in Paris in 1983 when he beat Mats Wilander in the final, delighting home fans at the Roland Garros

© STF/AFP via Getty Images

Emotions are a focus of this year’s tournament, as well as innovation.

“I think it has to be the centre of our lives, everyone who enters the stadium needs to feel the emotion, Mauresmo told the media in April. “It really means a lot to me, it is a part of my DNA.”

In 2023, there will be plenty of exciting tennis in store, with no fewer than 20 events and 891 matches on the card at Roland-Garros.

The wheelchair tennis tournament, scheduled from 6 to 10 June, will now feature two draws of 16 players, compared with 12 last year, and, to give the discipline some great exposure, one of the finals will be played on Philippe-Chatrier court and will be broadcast live on France Télévisions.

For the mixed doubles draw, the number of teams remains the same (32 pairs), 8 wildcards will be issued for the competition, while the format of the Legends Trophy by Emirates will change this year, featuring exhibition matches in 3 different formats: men’s doubles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles, and with all 14 of the event’s matches to be played on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

Spectators will be able to watch the world’s leading players practise on Philippe-Chatrier court every day from 1pm to 7pm this week ahead of the start of the championships.

The traditional Roland-Garros charity day will now be called Yannick Noah Day, to pay tribute to the famous tennis player in celebration of the 40th anniversary of his victory at the Porte d’Auteuil, and his commitment to children’s charities for over 30 years.

“This was the highlight of my life, so I feel very emotional being the Tournament Director while celebrating this date,” Mauresmo said. “We decided to change the same of the charity day and we have prepared a wall fresco, representing his victory in 1983 and who he is.”

On Saturday 27 May, entertainment will be rolled out throughout the day, both on the courts and in and around the stadium, with a special event planned for Noah on Philippe-Chatrier court.

Like every year, proceeds from this charity day will go to the Fête le Mur charity.

Player comfort remains a priority, with reorganised player area (240m2 in total), psychological help, a number of ‘wellness’ services, optimised accommodations, and the highest quality of catering on offer.

‘Off court’ coaching will be trialed this year at Roland-Garros, with coaches authorised to give advice to their player during the matches, but this new measure will be strictly monitored, with ‘verbal’ coaching only to be given by the coaches or their entourage from their dedicated box and limited to a few words only when the player is in the same half of the court as their coach.

‘Non-verbal’ coaching is allowed regardless of what side of the court the player is on.

During the match, the players are not allowed to approach or start a conversation with their coach, including when they are changing sides or during the breaks at the end of each set, except during a medical break, a toilet break or when their opponent is changing their kit.


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