Roland-Garros Children’s Day made its big comeback on Saturday with the presence of many players who agreed to take part in the celebration, with humor and good humor.
On the streets leading to the stadium, visitors make no secret of their impatience this Saturday morning. Armed with their tickets, summer dresses on their backs, hats on their heads, they are about to enter the Roland-Garros venue. There are no playoff games today, but a big party that is finally back after a two-year absence. Children’s Day, a popular and accessible event thanks to the 20 euro tickets, was finally able to find its audience after being deprived of it due to the Covid-19. Each year it aims to raise funds to fund solidarity actions in clubs affiliated to the French Tennis Federation, in particular for young people from disadvantaged neighborhoods, adapted tennis sports, healthy tennis and parenting.
While at the entrance, a few young tennis lovers are being made up by entertainers in long dresses, later on, a group sings Celine Dion’s hits and announces the color – this Saturday visitors are invited to the party. Under a tree, stylish jugglers in vintage clothes spin snowshoes while families and groups of friends (Children’s Day isn’t just for kids!) Wait for one or two. What to make sure you have a good day.
But it is in the exchange where the show is especially expected. While the visitors settle in and take advantage of the spring sun and heat for lunch, on the court, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas offers them a good exhibition match against the Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas. After a slippery slope on clay, the fourth player in the world wins the set among the fans. After a few words at the microphone in which he has remarkably congratulated the organization of the tournament for its increasingly ecological approach, “a topic we do not talk about enough,” the 23-year-old champion leaves the field, not without signing many. autographs.
the children’s dream
At 2pm, DJ Bob Sinclar, a tennis fan and loyal to Roland-Garros for years, finally takes to the stage to warm up his turntables. Accompanied by his longtime partner, Big Ali, he promises to create the atmosphere and make Philippe-Chatrier dance. And while comedian Inès Reg picks up the microphone to announce the first guests, the audience heads to the stands to find the last free seats. The first team to take its place on clay puts the Olympic spirit in the spotlight. On the one hand, the German Alexander Zverev, third world player and gold medalist in Toyko, is accompanied by fencer Astrid Guyart, silver medal in foil for teams last summer. Ahead of Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, who also won the tournament in Japan, is her partner of the day, French skier Arthur Bauchet, a three-time Paralympic downhill, supercombined and slalom champion in Beijing in 2022.
To the sound of Bob Sinclar’s ensemble, the doubles match was played in a good mood, with no winner or loser. Before leaving the track, Arthur Bauchet offers “a little quif” lying on the floor of the center, acclaimed by an entire stadium. The dream of a lifetime for the young man more accustomed to immaculate snow than to ocher clay. “We never won the final here, we can’t do it,” jokes Belinda Bencic. Then other shock participants take over from these first teams. Actress Shirine Boutella, singer Joyce Jonathan, DJ César de Rummel and host Guillaume Pley compete alongside Canadian tennis player Denis Shapovalov. In turn, several children chosen from the audience are invited to hit the ball with them.
Something to make their eyes shine and offer them moments etched forever in their memory. Especially because at 3 in the afternoon there is a roar in the stadium. World No. 1 star Novak Djokovic enters the center. The stands vibrate. Forgotten by the controversies and scandals of the last Australian Open in Paris, the Serb enjoys exceptional popularity. Always present for Children’s Day, “Nole” knows how to talk to the audience and can always be counted on to encourage them. After a few minutes on the field, hitting the ball sometimes with a bright young ball, sometimes with an ultra-motivated Inès Reg, Novak Djokovic offers himself a short walk in front of the children who have gone down by dozens to have the his bullets and notebooks. This should put the title holder in the best condition before the official start of the competition.
A tree for Ukraine
And while the Philippe-Chatrier gets carried away, the other tracks are also a stage for great entertainment. A match of legends is offered at Suzanne-Lenglen at 4 p.m. On track number 9, wheelchair tennis occupies a privileged place. As for the corridors of the stadium, they attract the attention of children and the delights of parents with their stands of sweets, popcorn and ice cream. A must, too, in one of the many shops in the stadium, which, despite the high prices, are always full. How can you resist a collector’s keychain, an official cap or a T-shirt that you can proudly wear to school on Monday …
This day under the Parisian sun was also an opportunity to remember the tournament’s commitment to Ukraine. A “Tree for Children and Peace” was planted in the Musketeers’ Garden with the presence of FFT President Gilles Moretton, tournament director Amélie Mauresmo, Ukrainian players Anhelina Kalinina and Dayana Yastremska and Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye , Vice President. of UNICEF. One hundred Ukrainian children were also invited to this emotional moment.