Improving the Fan Experience at the French Open

The French Open, one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world, faced criticism due to the presence of empty seats in the main stadium, especially during the singles semifinals. Tournament director Amelie Mauresmo expressed her disappointment, stating that they are “not satisfied” with the situation. While Mauresmo mentioned having “a number of ideas” to address this issue in the future, she did not disclose them during the recent news conference. French tennis federation president Gilles Moretton echoed Mauresmo’s sentiments, emphasizing that they cannot compel people to fill the stands.

It was reported that over 650,000 spectators attended Roland Garros over the course of three weeks, starting from the qualifying rounds to the main-draw matches that began on May 26. Moretton mentioned that a comprehensive review of the entire event will commence shortly, with a focus on areas that need improvement. One recurring topic of discussion has been the scheduling of matches, particularly the disparity between men’s and women’s games during the night sessions. The imbalance in the allocation of these slots has been a cause for concern, with the women’s professional tennis tour, the WTA, advocating for a more equitable distribution to showcase both male and female talent.

Mauresmo, a former world No. 1 player, emphasized the need for a balanced match schedule that includes both men’s and women’s tennis at prime time slots. However, she expressed reservations about featuring women’s matches in the evening due to the best-of-three-set format used in women’s singles matches, which may be perceived as shorter in duration compared to men’s best-of-five-set contests. Mauresmo indicated that scheduling one women’s match alongside a men’s match at night could prolong the session, leading to late finishes. Altering the start time of the night session was deemed impractical due to logistical constraints, as clearing the stadium after the day session and accommodating night session ticket-holders would require additional time.

While acknowledging the challenges faced in optimizing the fan experience, Mauresmo remained open to exploring alternative solutions to address the concerns raised. She highlighted the need for flexibility in adapting to evolving circumstances, emphasizing that the current scheduling practices are not set in stone. Mauresmo’s willingness to consider adjustments reflects a commitment to enhancing the overall fan experience at the French Open. By collaborating with stakeholders such as the WTA and prioritizing fan engagement, the tournament organizers can work towards creating a more inclusive and compelling environment for tennis enthusiasts worldwide.

The French Open has the opportunity to improve the fan experience by addressing key issues such as empty seats in the main stadium and optimizing match scheduling to promote gender equality in tennis. As tournament director, Amelie Mauresmo’s proactive approach to enhancing fan engagement and exploring innovative solutions demonstrates a commitment to evolving with the times. By listening to feedback, collaborating with relevant stakeholders, and prioritizing the interests of fans, the French Open can continue to uphold its legacy as a premier tennis event while adapting to meet the changing needs of its audience.


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