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The Parisian Grand Slam tournament opened on Monday its brand new night sessions with a match between Serena Williams and Irina-Camelia Begu. A historic first for this formula whose potential has been spoiled by the absence of the public due to the curfew. Reportage.
This is one of the great novelties of this 2021 edition of Roland-Garros. The Parisian tennis tournament inaugurated, Monday, May 31, its new night sessions, which will be ten in number. Until June 9, a duel featuring the big names in tennis will be staged each evening from 9 p.m.
On Monday, Serena Williams and Irina-Camelia Begu inaugurated the new formula. However, the closed door of the show, imposed by the curfew at 9 p.m. and forcing the public to leave the premises, is far from emphasizing the formula.
On the Jardin des Mousquetaires side, the public evacuation took place peacefully. From 8 p.m., many spectators choose to leave the sports arena to arrive on time at their homes. Others prefer to stroll in front of the giant screen and watch Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s game against Japan’s Nishioka which takes place a little further away.
Court Suzanne-Lenglen precisely, a message sounds at each change of side: “Ladies and gentlemen, your energy is an immense support for the players. But due to the curfew, the stadium will close in a few moments. Leave the stadium, please.” The announcement is immediately booed by the public, who want to continue supporting their foal. “We want to stay for you, Jo!” Some shout. The stewards finally take care of gently escorting the few recalcitrant, who offer little resistance.
The Porte d’Auteuil site is therefore sadly empty for the very first night session in its history on Philippe-Chatrier court. Only the VIP area of accredited persons can savor the event. The rest of the public will have to wait until June 9, thanks to a planned reduction in health measures in France.
Already in place at the Australian Open and the US Open, these sessions are separate ticketing and promise a poster with the big names in tennis. For this reason, they differ from matches like that of the day before, the world n ° 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas having scrapped until almost midnight with the French Jérémy Chardy, or that of the quarter-final Nadal-Sinner which had lasted until almost midnight. at 1:25 in 2020.
The French Tennis Federation (FFT) has chosen for this first meeting the superstar Serena Williams, three-time winner of Roland-Garros, who this year seeks to conquer a fourth title and thus equal the old record of Grand Slam victories of Margaret Court ( 24). In front of her: the Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu, 74th in the WTA rankings.
In the declining light of the day, the two players are entitled to a sound and light show for their entrance, while an announcer recites their prize list. It’s hard to take advantage of it when you imagine what the atmosphere could be like in the absence of the camera.
Another significant change: to watch this match played on the night of Paris – as well as to follow all those scheduled on the Simonne-Mathieu court -, you have to go through the paid Amazon platform, which has obtained the rights for three years. By offering for 15 million euros the broadcast lot 2, the American e-commerce giant has entered the French sports audiovisual landscape.
With little or no ticketing issue for this year, the nightly sessions have been maintained this year at the express request of Amazon under the signed contract.
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