After the fight in the stands of the court # 7 and the crisps lover in the ear of Gilles Simon, a metal plate came off the big screen of the Philippe-Chatrier to end up on some members of the audience, during the match between Tsonga and Nishikori. Three anecdotes that underline the fact that Roland Garros stands are part of the show too.
When a judoka threw a ball on the court
Invited last year by a French National TV Channel, the judoka Teddy Riner went west. While he was watching the match between Richard Gasquet and Carlos Berlocq from a box overlooking the Philippe Chatrier court, he grabbed a tennis ball and threw it on the court at the middle of a rally between the two players. Surprised, they replayed the point. Before commenting at the press conference. « I saw a ball coming from very high up, it’s true that it was a little strange,» said the French after the game. « Was it Teddy Riner? Oh no we didn't have a bet or anything. But it doesn't really upset me, the point wasn’t very important. And anyway, no one in the room will go and say anything to Teddy, right? (laughs) » Richard is not crazy.
Clinton disturbing Agassi
On the agenda of the world's elite, the French Open sometimes reserves an unexpected welcome to its guests. The most applauded remain politicians, who often struggle to sneak anonymously into the stands. Jacques Chirac in 1992 but especially Bill Clinton, on the 6th of June 2001 both experienced it. That day, the former US president entered the Parisian stadium to attend the quarterfinal between his compatriot Andre Agassi and the French Sebastien Grosjean, leading to a wave of applause in his wake. The Kid of Las Vegas had just won the first round but seemed to completely lose his focus after this arrival, and eventually left the match to Grosjean (1/6 6/1 6/1 6/3). Take that, Di Caprio.
The anti-gay marriage protesters
4:35 p.m. on the Central, on the 9th of June 2013. The air was heavy, the sweatbands wet, the socks ochre, and Rafael Nadal looked up. Above him in the stands, up there near the barriers, two guys had just interrupted the final of Roland Garros, while he was leading a set to zero against David Ferrer. Both protesters proudly brandished a banner with the message: "Help! France violates children rights." The crowd booed and the security service expelled them. They said after that they were protesting "against the Taubira law, because of fears for the future of our children." Five minutes later, the second service. A man ran down the steps, cracked a smoke bomb and got flatten as he was crossing the fence to go on the court, "Kids rights" stamped on the belly. All these people evacuated, Nadal raised his eighth Musketeers Cup two hours later, after seven months of physical problems, noting in passing that the greatest victories are the most contested.
The public that forget about the match
Tennis is a beautiful sport, and infinitely more dependent on external elements than any other sport. Perfect example on the 28th of May 1983, during a routine third-round match between Drew Gitlin, world 88th, and John McEnroe, the boss of tennis at the time. At the middle of the third set, while the two men were at one set all, the rumour started to rumble. The uproar intensifies, necks started turning. Just above the Philippe Chatrier court, spectators could see the Space Shuttle Enterprise, placed on the back of a Boeing 747. In Paris for the Paris Air Show, the UFO had just stared his return to the homeland of McEnroe, who was very quiet for once.
The unhappy public
French Open 2001, first round. The draw for the Parisian public reserved a 100% Aussie confrontation between Patrick Rafter and Wayne Arthurs. The match was scheduled on an outside court. Except that when spectators arrived, they were told that the game had been rescheduled on court # 1, for which their ticket wasn't working. Unhappy, they threw everything within reach on the court to show how unfair they thought it was. At the end of the day, it looked like a nice battlefield of mineral water bottles.
By Theo Denmat