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Serving up a socially distanced Grand Slam

China Daily | Updated: 2020-05-29 09:43
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Renovation work is carried out on Court Philippe-Chatrier at Roland Garros this week. [Photo/REUTERS]

'Roof baptized'

Officials in Paris have played down hosting a Grand Slam outdoors in a European autumn.

They point to Roland Garros having eight floodlit courts, including all three showpiece arenas-Philippe Chatrier, Suzanne Lenglen and Simonne Mathieu.

"The point is not to schedule matches late at night but to finish the matches started," said Vilotte, pointing out that night sessions will not start until the 2021 edition when the tournament slips back into its usual May-June home.

The risk of rain is greater in the autumn in Paris.

However, Court Philippe Chatrier now has a roof, bringing the tournament into line with the other three majors.

"From the start, the objective was to respect the outdoor nature of the tournament," said Vilotte."It is not a closed court, contrary to what exists at Wimbledon, at the Australian Open and even at the US Open, where the roofs hermetically seal the stadiums to air-condition them."

The new roof on Chatrier has 11 metal and canvas sections, weighing 350 tons each for a total area of 10,000 square meters.

It can cover the sport's most famous clay court in 15 minutes, while allowing air to pass through the sides.

The efficiency of the roof, which cost 55 million euros ($60.45 million), was tested during torrential rains that lashed Paris a few weeks ago.

"It was baptized," said Vilotte. "The roof was absolutely not affected by these rains and the water drainage channels worked without any of them overflowing."

Court Suzanne Lenglen will also have a roof installed in time for the 2024 Olympic Games.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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