For the first time, twelve are running its enlightened in the fortnight of Roland-Garros and that changes a lot of things.
It is 12:10 am Monday evening. Sorry, Tuesday morning! Clara Burel finished in front of Aranxta Rus. Never has a match ended so late in the history of Roland Garros. The new projectors lead to extended days. The night is beautiful Porte d’Auteuil, but a whole organization is turned upside down.
This year, 12 courts are equipped with floodlights: the three main ones (the Chatrier, the Lenglen, the Simonne-Mathieu) and most of the annexes (the courts 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 ). They will be running at full speed next year with the organization of real evening sessions. For now, the first feedback is positive, despite many constraints and not just for the players.
The enchanted spectators
“It’s magical: the stars, the sound, the brightness, the cold that sets in …”, lists Nicolas, a regular at Roland, who likes to stay until the last point every year. When night envelops the stadium, the atmosphere changes dramatically. “It’s more subdued, it’s true. It will especially be great next summer with spectators in the stands,” Morgane enthuses. The lighting effect outside the Chatrier is very successful and we see many spectators taking pictures at night. Soline, she was impressed by the rendering of the spots after dark: “we can see very well, the players too I think, I was afraid it would be different from daylight”. “It gives another atmosphere, another atmosphere to the match,” adds Julien. Jacques was unlucky: the matches ended before midnight Wednesday. “I am a little disappointed, testifies this lover of tennis at 11:20 pm, I will have attended one match in addition”. His wife, Françoise, even if she was “a little cold” and took out the hat and gloves, is not lacking in superlatives: “marvelous, superb, magnificent. Still, you should not miss the last subways. Last one. departure at Porte d’Auteuil station at 00:49.
Of course, finishing late shifts everything: the debrief with the coach, the press conference, treatment, dinner, bedtime … But for the moment, the players who finished late see the glass half full. Nobody complains about the cold, about impaired vision by the spotlight … After all, the Australian Open and the US Open have already established a night session for a long time, and the indoor tournaments end so late. Alizé Cornet summed up the situation well after his victory over Chloé Paquet ended at 9:23 pm: “What is super comfortable compared to usual is that when you enter the court, you know that you will finish the match ( …). It happened to me to end up with a set everywhere, interrupted by the night, to return to my hotel and to sleep, saying to myself: “There is only one set left tomorrow …” That’s one of the worst situations, it is unlivable. It’s true, for the players, it is that in less tension, where one is there to wait without knowing… There is less uncertainty and therefore inevitably more comfort . ” In June, matches rarely ended after 9:30 p.m. due to lack of visibility.
The staggered collectors
Obviously, the night matches require everyone to work extra hours: from court maintenance staff to referees, including the press service and the entire population who ensure the smooth running of the tournament. Example with the ball collectors: there are 230 young people aged 12 to 16 this year (against 270 in normal times, but the Covid epidemic has forced the workforce to be reduced in the overall strategy of limiting people on the site) and they finish late. Arthur Bongrand, the manager, explains: “The young people live it like a chance. They all want to go as late as possible, it is a little magical to be the last on the court, at midnight. Those who arrive at 9 am stadium in the morning leave at 9 pm maximum. We have collectors who do not arrive until 4 pm and finish the matches in the evening. The parents play the game, and come to pick them up. No young person comes back in transport. The parents try to follow the score to come and pick up the children. “