French Open could move out of Paris, director says

PARIS Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:12am EDT

Andy Murray of Britain casts a shadow as he serves during his match against Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris May 29, 2009. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Andy Murray of Britain casts a shadow as he serves during his match against Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris May 29, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Vincent Kessler

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PARIS (Reuters) - The French Open could move out of Paris in the next few years because of infrastructure problems, the grand slam's tennis tournament director said on Monday.

Organizers have been considering for years how to extend the current Roland Garros stadium, located on the leafy western edge of the French capital.

The projects, including the construction of a roof-covered court to avoid rain delays to the springtime claycourt tournament, have stalled, however, because of opposition, notably from the public and environmentalists.

"Over the last 10 years, the three other grand slam tournaments have progressed, notably in terms of infrastructure, but we haven't," tournament director Gilbert Ysern told reporters, referring to the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

"Roland Garros cannot stay the way it is," he added. "We have two options. One is to make it bigger, the other is to move out."

While the various extension plans are not shelved yet, Organizers are now considering four possible new locations in the Paris suburbs, all over 15 kms away from the capital.

"We have four very serious projects," Ysern said. "It would be heartbreaking to leave Paris but we have to consider it."

A final decision on whether the tournament will remain in Paris is expected during a general assembly of the French Tennis Federation (FFT) scheduled for February next year.

This year's French Open runs from May 24 to June 6.

(Writing by Patrick Vignal, editing by Justin Palmer)

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