PARIS — Roland Garros is the smallest of the four Grand Slam tennis venues, packed into a narrow wedge of parkland. Its 17 courts are fixed rectangular slabs, like the bricks that are crushed into dust to cover their surface.
But unlike the grass at Wimbledon and the hardcourts in Melbourne, Australia, and Flushing Meadows, Queens, the dust at Roland Garros moves. With every gust of wind, bits of the court lift into the air and spread the terre battue beyond its intended confines, looking like a faint coat of rust.
While the players wear what is dictated by their apparel sponsors, visitors find numerous forms of self-expression.
Fans dress to match their spirit, representing their allegiances to the sport or their sense of place. Sometimes the two intermingle: One fan had his Mona Lisa T-shirt autographed by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a Russian player whose own fluid artistry probably had never before been melded to Leonardo da Vinci’s.
But at Roland Garros, everything blends into one.