Skip to main content

Roland Garros suffers uncertain future

Click to play
Roland Garros needs expansion
  • French Open may be forced to move away from traditional venue of Roland Garros
  • Tournament director tells CNN that the current location is too small
  • Versailles and Disneyland Paris among four alternative sites
  • Local residents and environmentalists object to expansion plans

(CNN) -- The French Open could be forced into a move away from its traditional home at Roland Garros to an alternative venue in the Paris suburbs if expansion plans cannot be agreed.

The clay court grand slam has been held at the historic venue in the 16th arrondissement of the French capital since 1928, but is experiencing severe growing pains because of the demands of modern grand slam tournaments.

French Open organizers have ambitious plans to build a new roof on center court, similar to that at Wimbledon, but also to extend the present cramped grounds.

But opposition from local residents, the city council and environmentalists have forced them to consider other options.

Tournament director Gilbert Ysern told CNN's Open Court that the problem was acute and a solution needed to be found quickly.

"In many, many different ways the facility has become a little too small, mainly compared to the other three grand slams," he said.

Roland Garros is spread over 8.5 hectares, compared with Wimbledon which occupies more than twice its size in south-west London with 18.5 hectares.

"We are looking to expand, which is not an easy thing, but as you can imagine just being inside Paris, it is difficult to push the wall and find more and more space outside the current facilty," he added.

If we cannot find a solution here we will have to move
--Gilbert Ysern

Ysern told a press conference earlier this year that world number one and defending champion Roger Federer had given him a "long list of complaints" about the current venue, forcing them to look at alternative locations.

"If we cannot find a solution here we will have to move," he told CNN.

"There are quite a few sites we are working on, for instance one of them is Versailles, where there would be a great opportunity as well to build something that could be good for the future of the tournament."

Ysern revealed that a total of four new locations, all over 15km away from the city center, were actively under consideration, including historic Versailles and Disneyland Paris.

Over 450,000 fans are expected to flood to Roland Garros for the second grand slam of the season from May 24 to June 6.

A final decision on the future of Roland Garros, named after a famous World War One French aviator, is expected early next year.