French Tennis Federation Facing Opposition To Roland Garros Expansion
The French Tennis Federation is engaged in a “fight to expand Roland Garros,” site of the French Open, and it “looks like the row is destined to be thrashed out in the French courts,” according to Gittings & Duke of CNN.com. The Serres d'Auteuil Botanical Gardens lie alongside the courts, and “beneath the gentile surroundings a simmering war is brewing, one that pitches fauna lovers against forehand followers and has battle lines drawn between the ornate, glass greenhouses of the gardens and the clay of the courts.” The FFT maintains that the tournament “has become a victim of its own success and has outgrown its current site following player complaints of cramped conditions.” The organization proposes “expanding into the botanical gardens next door, replacing greenhouses with a new arena fit to house some of the world's best tennis matches.” But opponents and local residents “accuse the tennis body of ‘environmental vandalism’” and are “bitterly opposed to the move.” Serres d'Auteuil is “one of only three botanical gardens in Paris and contain a series of unique greenhouses and campaigners say the very rare plant life will be lost forever.” Under the FFT's plans, Roland Garros “will grow from its current 8.5 hectare site to 13.5 hectares, with a new planned show court in the corner of the gardens.” FFT General Dir Gilbert Ysern said, "I fully respect those who disagree with us but my concern is that most of the opposition is based on a lack of information, false information or false rumors. I would not have supported any project in this gorgeous place that would have destroyed ancient greenhouses." Former tennis player Amelie Mauresmo said, "I think that in Paris today we don't have the possibility to have the necessary space to develop Roland Garros. We are the smallest of the four grand slams and I think it is important to have the chance to grow, and for the public to have more room" (CNN.com, 4/28).