French Open announces alcohol ban to improve fan behaviour

Player complaints about interactions with the crowd prompts a total ban on alcohol in the stands of Roland Garros

The French Open tournament director, Amélie Mauresmo, has announced an alcohol ban in the stands among a series of new measures after a turbulent few days at the start of the tournament. The ruling comes in light of complaints from David Goffin and Iga Swiatek in recent days.

After his five-set win over France’s Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard on Tuesday, Goffin strongly criticised the partisan crowd’s behaviour and said that a fan spat chewing gum at him. Goffin also noted that the behaviour of fans at the French Open has been a common talking point among players.

On Wednesday, Swiatek used her on-court interview after her magnificent comeback win over Naomi Osaka to criticise the crowd on Court Philippe-Chatrier for calling out during points.

While it was previously prohibited to drink in the presidential box and players’ box but permitted elsewhere, Mauresmo said there would be a total ban: “Alcohol was allowed until now in the stands – not in all the stands – that’s over.” According to Mauresmo, the tournament has observed a shift in crowd behaviour since the dissolution of Covid restrictions.

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The tournament has also advised umpires and security staff to be stricter with disruptive crowd members. “We are happy that people are very enthusiastic about watching tennis, about being part of the matches, about feeling emotions and showing emotions. But yes, definitely there are steps that they shouldn’t go further [than],” said Mauresmo.

“So [a] few things have been put in place: first of all, the umpires [are] really going to be even more strict to further respect the players and respect the game. This is something that we’re not going to tolerate, to overstep these two things.

“If we exceed the limit, if we don’t behave well or if we throw things at the players, that’s it, we go out. Safety – it’s very clear – the instructions are given and there is no hesitation,” she said.

In addition to issues of crowd behaviour, the opening four days of the French Open have been ravaged by rain delays. While top players on Court Philippe-Chatrier and Suzanne-Lenglen, which have roofs, have been able to advance without issues, most other matches scheduled on Wednesday were postponed to Thursday. On Friday, play will start at 10am.

- Guardian