The French Tennis Federation (FFT) has revealed plans to light up the four main courts at Roland Garros for next year’s French Open, with night sessions set to debut in 2021.

This year’s French Open concluded yesterday (Sunday), with a record number of 520,000 spectators attending matches over the course of the two-week tournament.

Court Philippe Chatrier will have its retractable roof in place by next year. Tournament director Guy Forget confirmed that Chatrier, along with Roland Garros’ three other main courts, will be lit in 2020, with all other courts to follow in 2021.

Forget also addressed the issue of empty corporate seats at venues, stating that it was not a new phenomenon. “We have been working on it for several years,” he said. “We will try next year to find new ways to fill our boxes, which are empty sometimes. From an economic point of view, we cannot afford today to refuse these partners … who consume tennis in a different way.

“That is why we are trying, with our partners, perhaps to put in place for next year a kind of overbooking, as is done today by airlines or hotels so that they can bring some of their customers in the first part of the day and others after lunch.”

According to the Reuters news agency, organisers even asked employees to fill empty corporate seats during Saturday’s men’s semi-final and at the start of the women’s final. Reuters, citing an email from the FFT to employees, reported that workers were asked to stay “discreet” and remove their accreditation once they had sat down.

Ahead of this year’s French Open, the FFT officially unveiled the new Court Simonne-Mathieu, a venue they claimed is the most beautiful tennis stadium in the world. The main structure of the 5,000-seat venue was completed for the 2018 tournament but innovative landscaping work had yet to be finished.

Organisers also confirmed yesterday that demolition of Court No.1 will begin later this month as part of the FFT’s wide-ranging redevelopment project for Roland Garros. The project will also include renovation of Courts No.2 and 3.

Image: Roland Garros