Roland-Garros 2020: an autumnal diversion

 - Elodie Iriart

With the focus firmly set on new beginnings, the 2020 edition of the Roland-Garros tournament will be unlike any other.

The 2020 Roland-Garros tennis ball in front of the Eiffel Tower©Christophe Guibbaud/FFT

With the focus firmly set on new beginnings, the 2020 edition of the Roland-Garros tournament will be unlike any other.

First of all, because it is being held in peculiar circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. And secondly, on a happier note, because the metamorphosis of Philippe-Chatrier court is finally complete.

As the stadium prepares to welcome the world’s top players and a limited number of spectators to celebrate this one-off autumn event between 21st September and 12th October, we take a look at how this event is set to shake up our usual autumn habits in a positive way.

This is the story of a tournament that has adapted to recent events, as it has throughout its history, and a look forward at this exceptional fortnight of tennis action.

Rays of light roland-Garros stadium September 2020©Christophe Guibbaud/FFT

Roland-Garros 2020, a first time for everything

For the first time in its history, Roland-Garros is being held in a different season to its habitual spring billing, having been pushed back to the autumn.

The tournament may have been cancelled during the First and Second World Wars, but the Parisian Grand Slam has never previously been moved or postponed. The 2020 tournament is an exception that will go down in Roland-Garros history and will be forever etched in our memories.

A change of scenery

Paris, and Roland-Garros, looks completely different in the autumn. As the sun sets, the stadium is bathed in a golden glow while the light bounces off the surrounding buildings. The main indicator of this disrupted calendar is the stadium’s vegetation, which is already changing colour and losing its foliage.

This new atmosphere is an invitation to stroll around the stadium and admire the carpets of multicoloured leaves and the faint aroma of roasted chestnuts that herald the changing season. This postponed edition of the tournament will give us the opportunity to sample a whole-new Roland-Garros flavour.

The roof seen from the hospitality village©Christophe Guibbaud/FFT

New seating and a new roof

It is one of those lovely October mornings, when the autumn has finally set in across the French capital. The most eagerly anticipated and highly symbolic new feature this year at Roland-Garros is that rain and bad weather will no longer mean the end of play.

“Le Central” is entering a new era, as Philippe-Chatrier court is now topped with a retractable roof. Made up of 11 majestic trusses, this new canopy pays tribute to Roland Garros, the man who flirted with the clouds, a French war hero and pioneering aviator.

©Christophe Guibbaud / FFT

In the spotlight

On this rather unusual autumn evening in 2020, night has fallen over the legendary Roland-Garros stadium. The habitual silence has been replaced with waves of excited cheering, ringing out into the night.

The fading light no longer signals the end of play in Paris. Thanks to the stadium’s new floodlights, matches can continue well into the night inside the Porte d’Auteuil stadium.