French Open to Debut Pickleball at This Year's Event

An image taken at a previous French Open of a tennis player about to serve.

Will there always be a need to write "vs." between the words "tennis" and "pickleball?" Maybe not.

In a surprising twist, the hallmark tennis event, the French Open, announces it will feature pickleball as a sideline event. 

This year's Open runs May 26th to June 9th on the famed red clay courts of Roland-Garros. From the 26th-1st, spectators can see pickleball played on the Philippe-Chatrier north forecourt.

For the remaining days, a second pickleball court on Court 5 will see action.

While it was not announced who will be playing pickleball, we're eager to catch any highlights if they make it to video.

French Tennis Scene Embraces Pickleball

The global tennis community hasn't exactly opened itself up to pickleball.

If anything, tennis players either look down their noses at pickleball, referring to it as "not a real sport" -- or they become defensive when their (typically less-used) tennis courts are replaced or even temporarily covered by pickleball lines.

Image of pro pickleball video still and comments to the right, which chide the sport as "rubbish," etc.

But maybe we're rounding a corner, at least within the French Tennis world.

Putting tennis on display at the same event that Rafael Nadal will compete in is a considerable risk for the French Tennis Federation. We imagine it opens them up for critique from tennis purists.

Of course, we can't help but feel like the phrase "tennis purists" is sort of ridiculous.

Tennis and pickleball are two very different sports, after all; no more alike than ping pong and badminton.

Related: Pickleball ‘Bangers’ are (Mostly) Good for the Sport

The notion that pickleball could ever "replace" tennis is the result of a tennis snob's overactive imagination (no matter how much banter happens between the two sports' fans).

Anyway, it seems the French Tennis Federation's investment into pickleball won't stop there. A note at the bottom of their press release says they'll launch a "pickleball license" for the 2024/2025 season.

What that license allows is anybody's guess. 

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