Published February 13, 2011
By Chrystel Boulet-Euchin
PARIS (Reuters) - Tradition won the day Sunday when the French tennis federation decided to keep the French Open at a renovated Roland Garros and rejected plans to move the tournament to the Paris suburbs from 2016.
A federation (FFT) statement said delegates had opted for the "enlargement and modernization of the historic site at Porte d'Auteuil for the new Roland Garros."
Versailles, Gonesse and a site in Marne-la-Vallee close to Disneyland Paris had bid to take the only clay court grand slam out of the French capital and offer more space.
However, in a federation ballot Sunday, Gonesse lost in the first round, Versailles in the second with Paris then taking 70 percent of the vote in the final round against Marne-la-Vallee.
"It's a historic choice, probably the most important for our federation since its creation. Our aim was to offer an ambitious project," FFT president Jean Gachassin told a news conference.
"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."
Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe said Roland Garros would have 60 percent more space from 2015 thanks partly to a new 5,000-seat arena.
Although the aging and cramped Roland Garros in the west of Paris near the Bois de Boulogne will now be redeveloped, it is still likely to be the smallest grand slam venue.
The Australian and U.S. Opens have much more modern facilities while Wimbledon has added a roof to its center court.
Retired former world number one Amelie Mauresmo, the face of French tennis for many years, was among a number of players who were keen for the tournament to change location.
"I think that in Paris today we don't have the possibility to have the necessary space to develop Roland Garros," she told Reuters.
"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."
Media reports had expected Paris to win the vote in the end but there was speculation a run-off with Versailles, the site of the royal palace, might be needed.
The French Open staying at its existing home means the Paris Masters held at an old arena in Bercy and this week's Paris Open at Stade Coubertin are also set to remain where they are after rumors they could shift to Roland Garros if it became vacant.
(Writing by Mark Meadows; Editing by John Mehaffey and Sonia Oxley)