Chapter 03

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The “New Roland Garros”
A dream in the making
AN EXCEPTIONAL SETTING
The “Jardin des Serres” court
The new court of the “Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil”, which will be semi-underground, will be erected in perfect synergy with the garden it will be built on.
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.
Thanks to these improvements, the Roland Garros tournament will continue its tradition of excellence.
The Philippe-Chatrier Court
The new Place des Mousquetaires and the Philippe-Chatrier court, the renovation of which sees especially the installation of a retractable roof.
French Tennis Federation
Jean Gachassin steps down and Bernard Giudicelli takes over
OVERVIEW OF EIGHT YEARS OF PRESIDENCY
Jean Gachassin with Walter von Känel, President of Longines, during the celebration of the 10th year of collaboration between Longines and Roland Garros in 2016.
Having recently retired as president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), Jean Gachassin takes stock of his eight years as head of French tennis. Last February, Bernard Giudicelli, former Secretary General of the FFT, succeeded him.
Viewers could not have missed Jean Gachassin since he was elected in 2009. As a sport enthusiast, the former rugby union player was ever-present on the side lines, whether at Roland Garros, the BNP Paribas Masters, the Fed Cup or the Davis Cup. But the Pyrenees native went to great lengths behind the scenes as well, carrying out various projects and reforms. He was very present in the field, criss-crossing the country for eight years in search of “those for whom tennis is a part of everyday life”: club members, committees and leagues, as well as the many volunteers for whom he implemented resources to improve the day-to-day management of tasks. But Jean Gachassin knows that when it is time to take stock of a presidency, the number of registered members is the first indicator to be noted. In light of decreasing numbers in recent years, the former president confessed feeling “sad to be leaving before the drop has been stopped or halted”. Even so, he cannot be accused of not having tried to turn the dynamic around. After all, the “Galaxie Tennis” programme, which aims to attract and hook young players, emerged under his presidency. His presidency was also marked by the creation of three new memberships dedicated to diversifying what the federation offers and adapting it to the needs of each player. In terms of action taken, one may also note the construction of the new Centre National d’Entraînement (CNE, National Training Centre), which is a wonderful resource for France’s most promising tennis players. On the circuit, some young players arrive and slowly begin to make a name for themselves, while the number of players who find themselves among the best in the world is more than encouraging — the likes of Lucas Pouille, a true revelation of 2016. Though the FFT can draw on a brand new CNE, that is not yet the case for the Roland Garros stadium for which renovation plans have seen a number of setbacks due to various legal proceedings. After many delays, construction has finally begun. Though Jean Gachassin feels “proud that the ‘New Roland Garros’ is no longer a project but a reality”, he regrets however, that the proceedings have not all been closed. “It’s something that pains me a great deal as I believe so wholeheartedly in our project and its virtues! There are still battles to be fought but we have faith and I’m sure we will succeed in delivering this beautiful stadium.” In the absence of Roland Garros stadium renovations, the tournament has managed to export its magic and unique expertise in clay courts through its “Rendez-vous à Roland-Garros” in partnership with Longines and “Trophy Tour” operations. As for sporting results, the Bagnères-de-Bigorre native never awarded the Musketeers’ Trophy or the Suzanne Lenglen Cup to a French player, nor did he celebrate a French victory in the Davis Cup or the Fed Cup, despite three finals played. “Those are the rules of the game! Often, we’re not far from winning, but the best always wins.” The former president prefers to look on the bright side. “Despite the loss, the Fed Cup final held in Strasbourg last year remains an incredible memory. In 2014, the Davis Cup final in Lille was also a major success in terms of organisation. I’m still confident! Our French teams are now in the hands of the best, particularly those of the best French player these last few decades, Yannick Noah.” Jean Gachassin nevertheless had the chance to pop the champagne with Marion Bartoli’s Wimbleton victory in 2013, and even with the Grand Slam doubles tournaments won by duos Mahut/Herbert, Benneteau/Roger-Vasselin and Garcia/Mladenovic. In February, Bernard Giudicelli succeeded him as president of the FFT. The former secretary general of the FFT, and head of the Ligue de Corse since 1991, led the “France Tennis” list which received the majority of the votes. Before knowing who his successor would be, Jean Gachassin hoped, with a touch of humour, that “the new president will be a great President... not just in size, but that he be most of all passionate, as passionate as I have been.” The Pyrenees native assured us he would continue to follow tennis and was preparing himself for an active retirement with a few non-profit projects in sports.
Bernard Giudicelli — A true tennis lover
On 18 February 2017, Bernard Giudicelli, 59, was named the 14th President of the French Tennis Federation (FFT). In making this decision, the FFT has appointed a leader with strong convictions and international stature. Born in Marseille, the father of two made a life for himself in Bastia, in Corsica, land of his forefathers, where he has worked since 1983 as the manager of a community aid project focused on the social integration of young people. Prior to succeeding Jean Gachassin, Giudicelli climbed every step of the ladder available to a volunteer leader. He has worked as an instructor, umpire, club official and département committee chair. In 1986, he played an active role in the foundation of the Corsican Tennis League, over which he presided from 1991 until his election to the position of FFT President this February, while also sitting on the FFT’s board. In 1993, he became Vice-President of the FFT. In 2009, the former “enthusiastic amateur player” supported the candidature of Gachassin, alongside whom he subsequently worked for eight years, first as Vice-President and then as Secretary General. As the FFT’s second in command, he got hugely involved in the projects for which he was responsible. Aside from his statutory role, he also oversaw communication and legal aspects of the FFT’s work, the business component of the French Open, the Roland Garros Stadium redevelopment project, and the future governance of the FFT. On the international scene, Giudicelli has also enjoyed a meteoric rise, becoming a member of the ITF Board of Directors in 2015 and then being elected to the prestigious post of Davis Cup Committee Chairman. Elected on the back of an ambitious manifesto, “France Tennis”, Giudicelli, an admirer of Philippe Chatrier, wants to put the FFT into “victory mode”, enabling all those involved in French tennis to dream again, especially of winning on difference surfaces across the globe. He is keen to instil a “winning culture” for the “France jersey” in the French tennis community. As far as he is concerned, tennis is “the greatest sport in the world, one that conveys so many emotions, virtues and values, and that deserves our devotion and the time we dedicate to it” – a commendable declaration of love and profession of faith.
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