By Hanya El Ghetany
As we get approach the end of the first round of Roland-Garros, I’ve compiled my favourite off-court moments from the tournament — highlights that have absolutely nothing to do with the tennis matches themselves, rather, the events surrounding them.
- Au revoir, Tsonga
After Tsonga fell to Casper Ruud in his last-ever match as a professional tennis player, the Frenchman was presented with a delightful retirement ceremony. Ruud, who was nothing but gracious, elegant, and respectful to Tsonga, talked about his favourite Tsonga moment in his post-match interview instead of his own victory. The farewell was emotional, drawing tears from both young and old. Tsonga’s family was there, as were his French pals and every single coach he had. The Big Four gave him a proper goodbye on a video highlighting his greatest moments. It was a very hard moment for every tennis fan, even those who didn’t get to watch the high points of his career. All I say is I wish del Potro had retired in a major to receive a similar farewell party.
- Allez les bleus
For me, the French crowd are definitely the highlight of the tournament so far. Sometimes they are loud, passionate, and cheering the players on. Other times, they are just a challenge to deal with. If the French crowd loves you, you are in good hands. If you’re on their bad side, I hope you have the nerves to handle them. May the Force be with you if they’re rooting for your opponent! For whatever reason, Djokovic roaring loudly after a difficult point in his match against Nishioka drew boos from the fans, and then he continued to roar even louder in the next point, drawing even more boos. Leyla Fernandez called them a “football crowd”. One thing we know is to pray to God you never have to play a French player in Paris. I mean, watch poor de Minaur against Gaston. I’m also trying to understand their rule of choosing who to support if a French player is not on court. Still a mystery.
- Coco Gauff teaching the world how to politely deal with umpires
After the chair umpire gave Coco Gauff a coaching violation, Gauff told the umpire “I literally tell him [her dad] since I was eight years old, don’t talk to me in the match. I know you’re not accusing me of anything, I’m just letting you know that it’s the first time a ref has said this to me.” Then the umpire told her something along the lines of having to do something if it seems like he is coaching to which Gauff replied “at that point, just give me a coaching violation because I can’t control what he does on the field”. Take notes, ATP players. She was respectful while making her point, the umpire couldn’t help but smile.
- How to beat Iga Świątek?
In a typically funny Jabeur moment, the press asked her how she thought she could beat Iga, who was standing aside during that interview. Jabeur acknowledged Iga and told her “They asked me how to beat you, can you answer them, I couldn’t find the answer” to which Iga responded “put something in here” pointing at her water bottle. Jabeur laughed and replied “obviously, since drop shots didn’t work”. I just love the healthy rivalry between those two, especially if no one decides to poison the other! Also, if someone can tell me how to get my hands on Jabeur’s “yalla Habibi” shirt, I would be eternally grateful.
- Kids in Action
The famous Roland-Garros Kids Day returned after being cancelled the previous two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bob Sinclair was alongside Big Ali and kept the crowd dancing. Celebrities, musicians, comedians and of course tennis players were all part of the day to make it a memorable experience for the kids.
- Happy Birthday, Djoko!
Djokovic seems to be having a celebratory event with every tournament at this point, with his 1000th career win coming in Rome and now his birthday in Paris.
- There seems to be a lack of room temperature water bottles.
I’m not sure what the issue is with Paris and water, but it seems to be an ongoing problem. A couple of players have had problems with the lack of room-temperature water, including Stan Wawrinka, who said “you are in French Open, and you cannot get normal water. You think it’s normal”. Even Morgan Riddle, Taylor Fritz’s girlfriend, went on Instagram to say that she is dehydrated because the water tastes so bad. What’s up with that, Paris?