Organisers of the French Open have officially unveiled the new Court Simonne-Mathieu, a venue they claim is the most beautiful tennis stadium in the world.
Named after France’s second-most decorated female player, the new stadium forms part of the wider regeneration project taking place at Roland-Garros, home of the grand slam tournament. While the main structure of the 5,000-seat Court Simonne-Mathieu was completed for the 2018 French Open, innovative landscaping work to incorporate the surrounding Serres d’Auteuil had yet to be finished.
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) had faced fierce opposition when its masterplan for Roland-Garros was first unveiled, chiefly concerns over the detrimental impact it could have on the adjoining Serres d’Auteuil botanical garden.
The famed location is home to 6,000 square meters of greenhouses built in 1898 and contain works by the sculptor Auguste Rodin. The Roland-Garros expansion has added more than 1,300 sqm of greenhouses to the existing ones, with the new stadium located within the greenhouses.
Indeed, the new stadium has been designed to honour these greenhouses and fans at the mid-level of the venue will be able to leave their seats and walk through gardens containing plants from the world’s five continents. The semi-buried stadium is set between four greenhouses.
FFT president, Bernard Giudicelli, hailed the venue as the “most beautiful tennis stadium in the world,” while Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, added the finished project has been worth the challenges it has presented.
“It’s a story of battles, commitment, defeats and victories,” Hidalgo said, according to French newspaper Le Parisien. “We had polemic, fake news. We wanted to make people believe that instead of damaging the heritage we would embellish it. But it was worth the wait when you see the result.”
Roland-Garros’ main stadium, Court Philippe Chatrier, has been partially renovated for the 2019 French Open, which takes place from May 26 to June 9, before it is equipped with a retractable roof for the 2020 tournament.