French Open Employees Filled Empty Seats In Main Stadium
French Open officials "asked employees to fill empty corporate seats" on Saturday for the conclusion of the Dominic Thiem-Novak Djokovic men's semifinal and the Ash Barty-Marketa Vondrousova women's final, according to Julien Pretot of REUTERS. The seat fillers were told to "stay 'discreet' and take off their accreditation once seated." Seats and boxes reserved for officials and sponsors at Court Philippe Chatrier, the tournament's main stadium, "are often empty ... around lunchtime." That was on display Friday for the Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer semifinal. French Open execs indicated that they were "considering implementing an 'overbooking' system similar to airlines and hotels to make sure that seats are occupied" (REUTERS, 6/9). SI.com's Jon Wertheim noted the vacant seats in the big stadiums "makes for brutal ... optics." The "real pity is that it’s such an inaccurate reflection of the event." The Roland Garros walkways are "akin to Times Square on New Year’s Eve." Meanwhile, Wertheim wrote the recent renovations and enhancements to the tournament were done "without losing charm." Court Simonne Mathieu is like a "dignified venue popped up in the middle of a botanical garden, brimming with character and creativity." The four tennis majors have "quite a rivalry going, pushing each other and forcing innovation and investment." Wertheim: "Just [from] when it looked like Roland Garros -- owing to small acreage, Parisian bureaucracy and the absence of a covered court -- was falling behind a bit, it’s really surged" (SI.com, 6/9).
LET THERE BE LIGHTS: The AP reported lights will be installed on the four top show courts for next year's French Open and all courts the year after, "putting an end to matches being suspended due to darkness." Organizers said that a "retractable roof will be functioning over the 15,000-seat Chatrier stadium for next year's tournament." However, night sessions "won't be scheduled" until '21. French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli said that the tournament "will not follow in the tradition of the U.S. Open and Australian Open, where matches sometimes end in the early-morning hours" (AP, 6/9).