PARIS -- The zenith of the clay season is played at one of oldest, but most renowned, tennis facilities in the world.
The complex at Roland Garros was built in 1928 and, as you can imagine, boasts incredible amounts of history, from its red-clay surface, to the museum, to the library of pictures in the underbelly of the stadiums showcasing its lifetime of champions.
But the venue underwent somewhat of a face-lift this year, an update that will continue for the next few years. Here are the changes at the French Open in 2018:
Enter the grounds from Boulevard d'Auteuil and you will immediately be confronted by the sight of the new "Village," an imposing glass and aluminum building which offers guests an unmatched and incredible view over the new Courts 7 and 9 from terraces adorned by three pine trees. The Village houses tournament officials, organizers and ball boys and girls in the basement and it also acts as a hospitality base, where companies can host their guests.
Court 7, Court 9 and Court 18
Situated right in front of the Village, the new Court 7 will seat up to 1,500 people while Court 9 can host 550 fans. The real jewel in the crown, though, is Court 18, a new sunken court on the far west end of the grounds, with seating for 2,200 people. The fourth-biggest stadium at Roland Garros, it has already created a unique atmosphere. Grigor Dimitrov, who was a five-set winner over Jared Donaldson in the second round Wednesday, was an early fan. "I think it's a great court," he said. "It's never easy to just walk into the arena for the first time."
Court Suzanne Lenglen
All 10,068 seats inside Roland Garros's second-biggest stadium -- the magnificent Court Suzanne Lenglen -- have been changed from grey plastic to Vosges wood. Built by the French company, Delagrave, they are designed to resist all weather and have given the old stadium, built in 1994, a fresh look.
This year's draw ceremony was held in The Orangery, part of the beautiful burrstone buildings in the Auteuil Greenhouse Gardens, which were originally built in 1898 and have been carefully restored. Used for hospitality this year, the buildings will be opened to the public in 2019.
Coming soon: Court Simonne-Mathieu
The new seats will also be fitted in the new Philippe-Chatrier stadium in 2019 -- a stadium that will be fitted with a retractable roof by 2020 -- and in the new Simonne-Mathieu court, which will be situated in the Auteuil Greenhouse Gardens adjacent to the Roland-Garros grounds. Named after the Frenchwoman who claimed 10 Roland-Garros titles in the 1930s, the 5,000-seater stadium will open in 2019 and will replace the Court 1, the "Bullring," which will be torn down in 2019.
The French Open increased its overall prize pool by about $46 million. The tournament announced that the bulk of its increase will go to players in the qualifying and first rounds -- a nice incentive for those who are unlikely to navigate far in the draw. The men's and women's winners will each receive about $2.5 million.