For a self-described outsider at the French Open, Roger Federrer sure has been playing like a favourite at the Roland-Garros stadium. Today was his second match at Philippe-Chatrier’s court for this year’s edition, he won his 12th set in a row beating Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer, putting himself back in the RG quarter-finals for the first time since 2015.
While seated in the one of the new wooden chairs of this “renewed” Chatrier stadium, I took a moment between sets to admire and make some photographs of the new structure.
On the final day of the 2018 French Open, as Rafael Nadal was putting the finishing touches on his 11th RG win, members of the media received an intriguing email from the tournament entitled: “Invitation to the Demolition Party.”
Starting that night, Roland-Garros was going to demolish the press rooms housed in court Philippe-Chatrier, along with most of the rest of the 90-year-old stadium.
The tournament didn’t have a day, or even a night, to waste if it was going to meet its ultra-ambitious goal of creating a new Roland-Garros by the time the 2019 French Open began. Wrecking crews arrived soon after, and within a month, Court Chatrier had been stripped to its foundations.
With less than one year for construction, the structural work on the venue’s main court seating bowl has wrapped with new stands that improve comfort and visibility for up to 15,000 guests. Plans to place a retractable roof on the stadium ahead of the 2020 tournament will not only up that comfort level in the rain, ensuring matches continue, but will also allow for night matches at the stadium. The roof will be made of relatively light and independent elements, designed as an aircraft wing, in their shape, materials and structure.
The rebuild of the seating bowl allowed for a new space for players beneath the stadium, including more place for changing rooms, a warm-up room, player restaurant with its own delicatessen and a tunnel that leads directly to Suzanne-Lenglen court.