Not Sunday at the French Open. Nobody was there. Maybe they are going to be in September.
It ought to have been the first day of the clay-court Grand Slam match held yearly at Roland Garros — with 1000’s flocking to catch a glimpse of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Serena Williams.
Instead, the grounds in leafy western Paris have been abandoned on a sunny, blue-sky day due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Every year it’s Roland Garros time, it’s a bit like tennis fever. I was looking forward to seeing quality tennis and having a day out again. There’s a certain mood, an atmosphere,” stated 34-year-old Hector Snowman, who attended the match in 2019. “You see stars walking around there, it feels like a privilege to be there. Everyone’s expecting a French player to do well and they have their favorites like (Roger) Federer.”
Court Philippe Chatrier, the place 15,000 followers cheered Nadal’s record-extending 12th title final June, wouldn’t have wanted the new roof that was imagined to debut in case of rain this yr.
Viewed from exterior, peering by means of one among the website’s imposing iron gates, the towering roof seemed grandiose with its 11 giant sections, every 110 meters (360 toes) lengthy and weighing 330 tons (660,000 kilos).
Also seen: development gear left behind when France went into lockdown on March 17 littering the within Roland Garros.
In early February, the French Tennis Federation proudly launched a video to announce the roof was prepared. Just a few weeks later, individuals have been sheltering in place as the nation went into confinement. Soccer, rugby and tennis occasions all obtained known as off.
If the French Open does begin as hoped on Sept. 20, it might need to be performed with no spectators current on the 17 courts for well being and security causes. The maze-like grounds of Roland Garros are slim, crammed, stuffy and sinewy, making social distancing unattainable.
That would imply 10,000 followers lacking out on watching Djokovic or Nadal on Court Suzanne Lenglen in the early rounds, and it might sprint the FFT’s hopes of beating the file 520,000 followers who got here to observe final yr.
Normally 1000’s of individuals could be pressed collectively on the surrounding streets, getting ready to undergo safety as they walked towards the entrances down Avenue de la Porte d’Auteuil or Avenue Gordon Bennett. As people waited in line to get checked, the chatter might need been one thing alongside these traces:
— Can Nadal win a 13th championship in Paris to lift his complete of main trophies to 20 and equal Federer’s file for males?
— Will Williams win a 24th Grand Slam title to equal Margaret Court?
— Will Djokovic declare an 18th main title to shut in on Nadal and Federer?
— Can Ash Barty repeat her 2019 French Open triumph, which earned her her first main championship?
— Could Dominic Thiem, a runner-up to Nadal the previous two years, lastly win his first main?
But on this day, the lengthy lanes resulting in the stadium seemed like every other tree-lined avenue in Paris. There have been no stewards barking out directions or beefy safety guards checking baggage. No panama-hat carrying volunteers guiding followers round or checking tickets.
Normally it might take 15 to 20 irritating minutes to stroll from the Porte d’Auteuil subway station to the predominant entrance. On Sunday, it took simply six minutes.
There was loads of time and area to admire the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil, whose gardens stand reverse Roland Garros and have been there since 1898; the 4 white statues in entrance of the predominant gate look imperious below a cloudless sky.
Only handfuls of individuals walked down the avenue or rode bikes, some carrying protecting masks.
One girl in a blue face masking stopped twice to take pictures.
The first time, she photographed the roof. The second time, she walked round the nook and snapped a shot of the stadium entrance.
Tangled inexperienced foliage has draped itself over the predominant signal that claims, “Fédération Française de Tennis” — French tennis federation — with “Stade Roland Garros” written beneath in black letters.
Normally, that might not be seen with the quantity of individuals round on Day 1 of the French Open.