Why The Hell Are There So Many Empty Seats At The French Open?
As the world watched Aussie Ash Barty claim her maiden Grand Slam, there was one question being asked.
Why are there so many empty seats the French Open?
The question has been a running theme throughout the tournament at the Stade Roland-Garros in Paris.
Philippe Chatrier Center Court is lined with corporate boxes, but most are empty as punters choose to indulge themselves at the generously laid table at Le President’s Club for a gourmet meal and bubbles rather than the exchanges on court.
The issue was raised by French tennis player Lucas Pouille, who blamed the lack of spectators on champagne and food.
“That’s the problem with putting the hospitality boxes where they are,” Pouille was quoted as saying by radio RMC Sports.
“They’d rather have a glass of champagne than watch the tennis, that’s the main reason they come. They should (fill the stands) with people who want to watch the tennis.”
As someone who has missed out on Australian Open tickets multiple times, the number of empty seats throughout the entirety of the French Open has blown my mind.
How can one of tennis' premier competitions be so poorly attended?
One reason offered on social media was the lack heavyweights left in the women's competition. But that doesn't add up -- other Slams sell out finals months in advance, with no hint whatsoever about who will be playing.
And finals aren't the only days that sell out, particularly at the Australian Open.
Super Saturday -- the middle Saturday of the competition -- is an institution for tennis fans in Australia.
This year, a record 68,883 attended Melbourne Park for day sessions, and by the end of play that night a total of 93,178 had walked through the gates.
Wimbledon tickets are so popular there's a ballot system, which opens for the next year immediately after the tournament ends.
If you can't get a ticket through the ballot, there is always 'The Queue'.
A select number of tickets are sold on the day of play, and keen punters line up overnight in the hopes they'll be one of the lucky ones to get a ticket.
Tickets for the finals of the U.S. Open, which isn't until September, are already well on their way to being sold out.
So with three of the four Majors so well-attended, that brings us back to the French Open.
The French Tennis Federation has tried different means over the years to tackle the problem, including splitting the men’s semi-finals over two days so that holders have a ticket either for the first semi or the second, aware that empty stands look poor on television.
But it's obviously not working.