L’Équipe got the big scoop on Wednesday.
And on Thursday morning, the French Federation confirmed it.
Roland Garros will be pushed back a week, with the qualifying starting on May 24 instead of May 17 .
The main event will begin May 30, and run to June 13.
Here’s some of the official release:
“In agreement with the French public authorities and the governing bodies of international tennis, the French Tennis Federation made the responsible decision to postpone the 2021 Roland-Garros tournament by one week, which will now be held from 24 May to 13 June.
“In his latest speech, on 31 March, the French President announced that a schedule to progressively get cultural and sporting events back up and running would be set up from mid-May onwards, subject to the improvement of the health situation. Using this as their starting point, the FFT worked in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the relevant government services on potential scenarios for organizing Roland-Garros, while taking the international sporting calendar into account.
“In this context, it appeared that postponing the tournament by one week would be the best solution. Hence the qualifying rounds will be held from Monday 24 to Friday 28 May and will be followed by the main draw, from Sunday 30 May to Sunday 13 June.
“The FFT, for this 2021 edition of Roland-Garros, aims at maximizing the chances – for the players and for the overall tennis community – that the tournament is played in front of the largest possible number of fans, while guaranteeing health and safety. Regarding both objectives, every week is important and can make a difference.”
All the governing bodies in agreement
This time, it appears the FFT didn’t take a mostly unilateral decision, as it did when it grabbed the weeks during the fall to hold the 2020 edition, which had been postponed because of COVID.
“I am delighted that the discussions with the public authorities, the governing bodies of international tennis, our partners and broadcasters, and the ongoing work with the WTA and ATP, have made it possible for us to postpone the 2021 Roland-Garros tournament by a week. I thank them for this,” was the comment from brand-new FFT president Gilles Moretton.
The WTA and ATP even put out a joint statement.
‘Tennis has required an agile approach to the calendar over the past 12 months in order to manage the challenges of the pandemic, and this continues to be the case,’ the tours said.
“Both the WTA and ATP are working in consultation with all parties impacted by the postponement to optimize the calendar for players, tournaments, and fans, in the lead-up to and following Roland-Garros. Further updates will be communicated in due course.”
Wimbledon will keep the same dates
With Wimbledon confirming Wednesday that it will not follow suit and push its dates back a week, that means the grass-court season, at least for 2021, will go back to a short two weeks.
Since 2015, it had been extended to three weeks.
‘The decision to move Roland-Garros will obviously create a knock-on effect for the summer grass-court season.
The British Lawn Tennis Association told the Press Association in the U.K. that it may have to make some adjustments.
“We are currently looking at the implications for our events and if we will need to make changes to our calendar. We will communicate any updates to all parties as soon as possible.”
The decision affects the men’s grass-court tournament in Stuttgart, Germany, the women’s event in Nottingham and the men’s and women’s events in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands.
Yes – mostly men in the RG night sessions
Yesterday, in response to a story by RMC Sport, the French federation tried to spin the notion that the new 9 p.m. night session matches would NOT be mostly men’s matches.
Thursday, Roland Garros tournament director Guy Forget copped to what most people already knew was the more likely scenario.
Well, actually he was sort of all over the place in his comments to L’Équipe.
“We haven’t ruled out playing women’s matches. We also haven’t said that we’ll only do men’s matches,” Forget said. “If, at a certain point, there’s a women’s match that’s a fantastic confrontation, it could be the match of the day – the one people most want to see. We’ll want to put that match in night session.”
But, Forget added, the early rounds for seeded players are often one-way traffic.
“So we would favour the men’s matches knowing that even if Nadal wins 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, he’ll play 1h45 or two hours. If a women’s match goes 6-1, 6-1, it could last 40 minutes,” he said. “If the match is over in 40 minutes, you can imagine that the person who paid for that ticket will be unhappy.”
(Hey Guy – have you actually watched the early rounds of women’s matches at Roland Garros lately? This is not the 1980s).
The night-session matches will take place over the first 10 days of the event.