Roland-Garros: Through a lens

The tournament’s official photographers give us a glimpse at their best shots. We can't wait for the next ones!

objectif appareil photo Roland-Garros©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Elodie Iriart

At Roland-Garros, each year we are treated to a wealth of impressive tennis, the thrill of victory, the distress of defeat, and the extra special atmosphere that reigns every spring inside this emblematic venue.

To capture the intensity of these different emotions, the tournament’s official photographers cast their expert eye over the world around them to examine the relationship between humans and their environment (the stadium, the game, the players, the performance). 

They mill around the stadium, hidden in the shadows, seeking out the perfect shot. The only thing that gives them away is the occasional clicking of a flash disturbing the silence of a match. 

Six of them have agreed to have a chat and share their favourite snap with us. 

Let’s find out what was happening, at that precise moment, behind the lens…

Victoire Rafael Nadal Roland-Garros 2010 ©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Masterstroke burst

When? Roland-Garros 2010
Tell me what was happening behind the lens…

Corinne Dubreuil
: Roland-Garros is a fantastic playground for photographers! For the last 30 years, I have loved exploring the courts and seeking out new shots. Discovering angles or light, looking for the ideal position that will allow me to take a great photo. 

For this “revenge final” in 2010 between Rafael Nadal and Robin Söderling, after discussing with the team of Roland-Garros photographers, I chose to be in the photographers’ pit on Centre Court at match point. It’s a risky spot because you might not get any good photos. 

There are various different elements that must come together in order to get THE photo. The winning player must be on the same side as the pit. Then, since the angle is quite restricted (with the line judges’ chairs that can get in the frame), you just have to hope that the player celebrates their win in exactly the right place.

On that day, it all came together perfectly! The right side for the final victory, the perfect angle, and Rafa lying right in front of me! His position is incredible! It was his 5th title in Paris (Rafael Nadal won his 5th Roland-Garros that year) and he got revenge on Söderling, who had knocked him out in the Round of 16 in 2009, causing a huge shock. 

It’s one of my favourite Rafa victories at Roland-Garros.

(This photo is from a series of 10 images captured as a burst). 

What is your guilty pleasure during the tournament?

Corinne Dubreuil: At the end of the day, when the stadium is empty and night is falling, I love sitting on a bench for a few minutes and enjoying the peace.  

What is your favourite spot inside Roland-Garros stadium?

Corinne Dubreuil : I really like the high positions, particularly the back row of Suzanne-Lenglen court, on the Fond des Princes side and behind the umpire’s chair. The late afternoon light and shadows are superb. 

Who is your favourite player?

Corinne Dubreuil : Rafael Nadal

Stefanos Tsitsipas Roland-Garros 2020©Nicolas Gouhier / FFT

Autumnal half-light 

When? Roland-Garros 2020

Tell us what was happening behind the lens…

Nicolas Gouhier: Of all the editions of Roland-Garros that I’ve covered, the 2020 tournament stands out the most due to the health crisis and the uncertainty about whether the tournament would be cancelled or postponed. It made me even happier than usual to see the photo team last year!  The thing that was so different about that tournament was not only the stadium’s new features but also the date, which was so different to usual. Playing in the autumn, at the Porte d'Auteuil, meant one thing for us photographers: new light. 

I chose this photo of Stefanos Tsitsipas, taken during his semifinal against Novak Djokovic. Thanks to the new facilities in Philippe-Chatrier court and the autumnal light, I was able to access a new viewpoint, which is where I took this photo against the light so you can just make out the player’s silhouette. 

I was so excited when I took the first shots. I just had to wait for the right movement, at the right time. It took extreme concentration because the “shooting window” was very tight, both in terms of time (I had to be quick before the sun disappeared behind the stands) and space (as the sun was only shining on the baseline of the court). 

What is your guilty pleasure during the tournament?

Nicolas Gouhier: Definitely the waffle stand!

What is your favourite spot inside Roland-Garros stadium?

Nicolas Gouhier: The courts’ photography pits 

Who is your favourite player?

Nicolas Gouhier: Rafa of course!!!

Court Simonne-Mathieu de nuit Roland-Garros 2020©Emilie Hautier / FFT

An evening première

Roland-Garros 2020

Tell us what was happening behind the lens…

Emilie Hautier: It was at the 2020 tournament, when there was an evening Oppo event. It was the first time there’d been any play at night at Roland-Garros! I knew it was a big deal, in view of the tournament officially including night sessions (planned for the 2021 tournament).

It was on Simonne-Mathieu court, a lovely new setting that I really like.

I felt like it was a ground-breaking moment.

What is more, there were very few photographers around, just two or three, so I felt really honoured to attend this “pilot” night session.

It was also a strange year because of the health crisis. The stadium was practically empty, it was September instead of the traditional May/June, and we were aware of how lucky we were to be there and to be part of this historic edition.

When I took the photo, I was looking down onto the court, which I find so beautiful because of its plants, its intimacy. The whole of Paris stretches out behind it, and I truly had the feeling that I was experiencing something extraordinary, something timeless.

What is your guilty pleasure during the tournament?

Emilie Hautier: I don’t really have any! maybe keeping an eye on social media, to see the tournament posts!

What is your favourite spot inside Roland-Garros stadium?

Emilie Hautier: The Orangery in the Auteuil gardens, with its 1900s architecture and its burstone walls! It’s a hospitality space, so I have photography jobs there. I also really like Philippe-Chatrier court: the concrete, the St Andrew’s crosses and its Art Deco feel.

Who is your favourite player?

Emilie Hautier: Rafael Nadal is truly the most awe-inspiring to photograph. He is the pure embodiment of strength, very visual.

Cori Gauff Finale Junior Roland-Garros 2018©Amélie Laurin / FFT

Statuesque performance

When? Roland-Garros 2018
Tell us what was happening behind the lens…

Amélie Laurin: It was during the girls’ singles final at Roland-Garros 2018. The photographers had been posted to the different courts, and I was tasked with covering the tournament’s atmosphere, so I decided to go to Court No.1 where the juniors final was being played, to try and get some nice shots. I tried various different spots: first at the top of the stands, then in the pit, and then on the edge of the court. I was looking for illustrative shots, high points, keeping an eye on what was going on both on the court and in the stands. I knew that another FFT photographer was there to take sporty photos, but that didn’t stop me from taking some too. Cori Gauff, who won the title, was just 14 at the time. Her muscles were spectacular, and she was lovely to photograph as she was very expressive. I was in the pit. She was running from one side of the court to the other, passing in front of my lens so many times. I shot in a burst so that I could select the best shot of her movements. In this one, she looks statuesque. 

What is your guilty pleasure during the tournament?

Amélie Laurin: When I can, I like having an ice cream with my friend and colleague, Pauline, or with the other photographers from the team. 

What is your favourite spot inside Roland-Garros stadium?

Amélie Laurin: I really like the view at ground level from the pit. 

Who is your favourite player?

Amélie Laurin: Nadal!

Iga Swiatek Finale Dames Roland-Garros 2020©Cédric Lecocq / FFT

A beautiful victory

Roland-Garros 2020
Tell us what was happening behind the lens…

Cédric Lecocq: Iga Swiatek hugging her mother and her brother last October. I really felt honoured to watch that intimate moment between the new Roland-Garros 2020 champion and her loved ones. I was not far from the Polish player’s boxes, and usually you can’t see a lot from this spot as the spectators are all standing up. But, in these unusual circumstances, being so close to this embrace, this joy that she was sharing with her family, seeing how much she had achieved at just 19 years of age, all of her efforts rewarded, I was so lucky to be able to capture that moment. 

What is your guilty pleasure during the tournament?

Cédric Lecocq: Every afternoon, I head to the waffle and pancake stand. We walk a lot during the day, and once you’ve passed by a few times, it’s always nice to stop for a break. I must admit, I often buy two and give one to a colleague, to make me feel less guilty! 

What is your favourite spot inside Roland-Garros stadium?

Cédric Lecocq: Behind the player’s bench. You can get some great pictures from there. The player’s entrance or the end-of-match handshake, but mainly when they change sides, since you’re so close you can get good close-ups of their faces or hands, and even some nice backlit shots when there are parasols up. 

Who is your favourite player?

Cédric Lecocq: Roger Federer! I love the three great champions we have been lucky enough to watch in recent times. I have a slight preference for Roger Federer, his calm attitude and his well-rounded game, with his superb one-handed backhand. And being world No.1 for 237 consecutive weeks was just incredible! 

Ramasseuse de balles Chinoise Roland-Garros 2019©Pauline Ballet / FFT

Ballerina on court

When? Roland-Garros 2019
Tell us what was happening behind the lens…

Pauline Ballet: A good photo doesn’t always have to capture an historic or momentous event. For me, it’s an alchemy: when the light, the composition, the action and/or the emotion all come together at the same time. That is when the magic happens, and it is this magic that makes me want to take photographs.  

Roland-Garros is a gold mine for photographers, and every corner is bursting with exquisite details that help write the tournament’s history. I had to do a series about the Chinese ballgirls working at Roland-Garros 2019. This moment was perfectly insignificant in itself, but as I looked through my viewfinder, I had this special feeling. The ballgirl turned into a ballerina before my very eyes, moving with such grace in the soft, pastel-coloured light.

What is your guilty pleasure during the tournament?

Pauline Ballet: Eating Kinder Buenos or pistachio ice cream from Grom.

What is your favourite spot inside Roland-Garros stadium?

Pauline Ballet: The pit (on the courts)

Who is your favourite player?

Pauline Ballet: The magician, Henri Cochet.