Still not quite full, pre-pandemic, Roland Garros erupted again from tennis, cheers and sunny pleasures on Sunday, as this year’s tournament started with a little color in his cheeks compared to the gentle edition held in the autumn chill last year.
Nearly 5,400 people a day are allowed on the spot at the start of the French Open, with expectations for even more allowed at the end of the tournament, after the 2020 version was limited to 1,000 spectators per day when it launched in September due to COVID Concerns -19.
Courts that last year sounded hollow and empty now resounded with chants and applause, especially smaller courts, which due to their limited capacity felt almost crowded – even with some places marked inaccessible with red stickers asking not to use due to health reasons.
Viewers again formed lines, while last year they were able to waltz straight and almost sit where they wanted.
Christian Noel, who took a two-week vacation from his insurance business to attend the French Open for 10 days, enjoyed his return to the place. Wearing a face mask, as required for all spectators aged 12 and over, except while eating or drinking, he soaks up a game on Court 8, newly opened this year.
“I’m glad,” he said. “I really missed last year.”
Waiting in line to enter another new, small court, Court 6, was actually a joy for Mathieu Caso, a financial controller from the Paris region. He was among the few lucky ones who managed to get tickets in 2020, attending twice, which seemed “quite sad”.
“It makes me feel good,” he said of Sunday’s more lively atmosphere. “The pleasure of seeing people and the pleasure of being together again.”
The larger courts, of course, were noticeably empty because of so many thousands of vacancies.
The pavilions were closed last year, so those who were on site had very little money to spend their money.
Now, however, they were again tempted by souvenirs, snacks and drinks. The sun warmed a new 10-meter statue of 13-time champion Rafael Nadal and the people who took the rays, unlike all the trembling coats and jumpers from seven or more months ago.
Pamela Murphy, a New York doctor, said she paid three times their value for tickets she bought on Sunday.
In Paris, to consult with French colleagues about the coronavirus, she tasted pink champagne – 100 euros, or about 120 dollars, a bottle – with a friend in court, Philippe Chatrie.
“They put an umbrella on me and set the table,” she said. “The French are so wonderful.”
IF YOU CAN’T WIN …
Perhaps Venus Williams thinks that “if you can’t beat them, join them” because she’s teaming up with Coco Gaff in doubles at the French Open.
Williams, 40, and Gauff, 17, competed in the women’s doubles draw from Sunday’s clay court tournament.
When Gauff became the youngest qualifier in Wimbledon history at the age of 15 in 2019, she faced Williams in the first round of the main draw – and beat her on the way to the fourth round before losing to the possible champion Simona Halep.
Then at the Australian Open in 2020, Gauff faced Williams again in the first round – and defeated her again on the way to the fourth round, before losing again to eventual champion Sofia Kenin.
Gauff won three WTA doubles titles with Katie McNally, including last week in Parma, Italy, where Gauff also won singles titles to move her ranking to the best position of her career at 25. She is the youngest American. which debuted in the Top 25 by Williams’ younger sister, Serena, in 1998.
Williams’ s brothers and sisters have won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles together.
COLLINS WINS AFTER SURGERY
Daniel Collins returned to action from the Grand Slam on Sunday after endometriosis surgery – and she won.
The 27-year-old Collins, who is from Florida, defeated Van Xiu 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the second round of the French Open.
She was a semifinalist at the 2019 Australian Open and a quarterfinalist at the French Open last year.
Endometriosis involves abnormal growth of uterine tissue that can cause severe pain and infertility. Approximately 1 in 10 women of reproductive age is able to.
“When we deal with these painful moments, we learn to accept them,” Collins said. “And things started to get too abnormal and really unhealthy for me, and it was causing a lot of devastation for me at the time.”
Collins said her friend had endometriosis and helped her find out it was causing her trouble.
“A handful of different women who have approached me – friends, family, people I don’t know, who I’ve never met – who have been affected by endometriosis,” Collins said.
“It was nice to have that sense of community because I think when you live with that kind of thing, sometimes it can be very isolating because you feel alone and you deal with those problems. Sometimes there is no light at the end of the tunnel, “she said. So, if I can ever be someone’s friend and share my experience, we hope it can offer them some knowledge or information they may not have known before. “