With the delicate music of string trio Airplay drifting through the sunlit morning air, earlybird spectators stroll along the walkway outside the exquisite Orangerie building, wandering into the café and boutique.
Approaching Court Simonne-Mathieu, they marvel at the quartet of contemporary glasshouses fringing the four sides of the arena, each a botanical hothouse of subtropical plants from Australia, Africa, South America or Asia. All spectators are presented with a chic commemorative linen tote to mark the occasion.
Taylor Townsend becomes the first player to deliver a competitive serve on the new court, against 2016 Roland-Garros champion Garbine Muguruza. High in the arena’s upper bleachers, it feels magically as if the entire court is suspended in the treetops, with just a glimpse of Court Philippe-Chatrier visible to the west, and the Eiffel Tower peeking through the eastern foliage.
A torpid set from Muguruza sees lefty Townsend inflict a break to love, to take the opening chapter 7-5. But the crisis is destined to pass quickly, as Muguruza’s misfiring backhand clicks into gear.
Outside on the western walkway bordering the court, artists Supakitch & Koralie are working on a huge canvas, using waterproof spray paint and stencils to create a graphic representation of the glasshouse gardens, in the signature Roland-Garros colours of terracotta, green and white.
The first-ever win on Court Simonne-Mathieu belongs to Muguruza, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, via a delicious drop shot on her fourth match point.
“It’s cool to be the first player on this court,” says Muguruza. “It has a different feeling, like in a garden. It’s a very cute court – not small, but cosy.”