PARIS (Reuters) – The French Open is mostly a picture of elegance — well-dressed spectators in Panama hats watching the ball sizzle across the red clay in searing sunshine. The problem is when most of the crowd disappears for a long Mediterranean lunch.
While numbers at Roland Garros have been climbing steadily in recent years — there were a record 472,000 visitors in 2017, up 16,000 from 2016 — the stands are often half-empty during the lunch hour, which at the French Open can run from around 1130 a.m. until 3 p.m. and is frequently fueled by Champagne.
Women - Matches - Serena - Williams - Kiki
Early round women’s matches have been particularly affected but even the 2016 semi-final between Serena Williams and Kiki Bertens did not escape. Photos showed Philippe Chatrier, the main show court, largely deserted. The other semi-final between Garbine Muguruza and Sam Stosur was not much better attended.
As well as disappointing players — Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has expressed irritation — it does not look good on TV and is a source of embarrassment for the French Tennis Federation, which has been looking at ways to resolve it.
Wimbledon - Hordes - Tennis - Fans - World
Wimbledon, with its hordes of tennis fans arriving from the world over to camp out for days or even weeks to get hold of tickets, has not faced the same problem.
Last year, Roland Garros sold tickets to the men’s semi-finals separately, so rather than someone being able...
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