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Roland Garros keeps French Open

Court Chatrier
Roland Garros has been home to the French Open for 86 years

The French Open will continue to be played at Roland Garros in Paris after officials rejected proposals to move the Grand Slam event to another venue.

Three other projects, from the suburbs of the French capital, were bidding to host the clay-court event from 2016.

However, all three were more costly as they needed building from scratch.

An official statement said: "We back the project to create a new Roland Garros venue, extending and modernising the historic venue at Porte d'Auteuil."

The Federation Francaise de Tennis (FFT) rejected Gonesse in the first round of voting, while a proposed site near the Palace of Versailles was dismissed in round two.

The Roland Garros venue, which is situated in western Paris, then polled two-thirds of the vote in the final round to beat off competition from the eastern suburb Marne-la-Vallee, which also hosts Disneyland Paris.

"It's a historic choice, probably the most important for our federation since its creation. Our aim was to offer an ambitious project," said FFT president Jean Gachassin.

"This decision has been made against the fashion for having things on giant scales but it's a project which is resolutely focused on the future. This hasn't been a default choice. The Paris project was the most beautiful of the four."

Roland Garros, which has been home to the French Open since it began 86 years ago, spans 8.5 hectares, less than half the size of the 18.5 hectares at Wimbledon's All-England Club.

It is the smallest of the four Grand Slam venues that also includes the Australian Open at Melbourne and the US Open at Flushing Meadows in New York, however, the new site is expected to be expanded to 13.5 hectares.

But France's retired former world number one Amelie Mauresmo led criticism of the FFF's decision, believing the plan to be flawed.

"I think that in Paris we don't have the possibility to have the necessary space to develop Roland Garros," said the 31-year-old two-time grand slam winner.

"We are the smallest of the four grand slams and I think it is important to have the chance to grow, and for the public to have more room."

Among the renovation options are building a retractable roof over centre court (Philippe Chatrier) and a constructing a new court with a capacity of 8,000 spectators.

The costs to renovate Roland Garros were estimated at £210m while the other three projects ranged from £400m-675m.

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see also
Roland Garros aided by venue deal
23 Sep 10 |  Tennis

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