[Update: We have NBC’s coverage of the French Open finals here.]
The second Grand Slam tennis tournament of the year returns to the red clay courts of Roland Garros in Paris for the French Open. Spain’s Rafael Nadal goes for his sixth title (he has won five of the past six French Opens), but will face competition from Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Robin Soderling and longtime foe Roger Federer. The story heading into Roland Garros is Djokovic’s unbeaten streak of 39 matches (37 in 2011) and his two-straight wins over Nadal on clay. On the women’s side, it’s wide open as defending champ Francesca Schiavone of Italy looks to get past Caroline Wozniacki, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka and Samantha Stosur for a title repeat.
ESPN2, Tennis Channel and NBC share coverage of the tournament May 22-June 5. Tennis Channel starts live tournament coverage on Sunday, May 22, at 5am ET. Coverage then shifts to ESPN2 beginning at 1pm ET. NBC’s coverage includes the women’s final June 4 and the men’s final June 5. Full schedules and press releases below (we’ll add more from NBCU when it comes available).
TENNIS CHANNEL’S FIFTH YEAR OF FRENCH OPEN COVERAGE TO INCLUDE 3-D WEEKEND
AT&T U-verse®, Comcast and DIRECTV Subscribers to See Hallowed Tournament’s Red Clay Fly Like Never Before on U.S. Television
75 Live Hours, 42 First-Run Hours of French Open Tonight and Close to 250 Hours of Overall Tournament Coverage Begins May 22 in Paris
On-Air Team Features Navratilova, McEnroe, Davenport, Collins, Carillo, Macatee, Robinson, Eagle
LOS ANGELES, May 16, 2011 -Tennis Channel, the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and tennis lifestyle, will bring the world’s most prestigious clay-court tournament to American televisions in 3-D for the first time during this year’s French Open coverage. Working with AT&T U-verse®, Comcast and DIRECTV the network will telecast all matches from center court – the postcard-perfect Philippe Chatrier Court – in 3-D during Memorial Day weekend, May 28-30. Viewers who subscribe to one of these three pay-TV providers will be able to access the more than 20 hours of match coverage.
Though Grand Slam tennis action has appeared in 3-D on U.S. television networks before, this will be the first time for the French Open, so symbolized by its surface of luxurious red clay, extended rallies and passionate, vocal stadium crowds.
“Tennis Channel prides itself on bringing this sport to our viewers through state-of-the-art broadcast quality that’s second to none,” said Larry Meyers, executive producer and senior vice president, production, Tennis Channel. “In keeping with this, we’re happy to work with AT&T U-verse, Comcast and DIRECTV to be the first network to offer the French Open to U.S. audiences in 3-D. We always say we want viewers to feel like they’re actually in Paris at the French Open when they tune into Tennis Channel, and the images of red clay flying through their televisions at them in 3-D this year will only add to this effort.”
In all Tennis Channel’s fifth year at the French Open will bring more than 75 hours of live or first-run matches to viewers, with another dozen hours of men’s and women’s semifinal same-day encores. The network will carry at least seven live hours a day for the first nine days of the competition, with coverage beginning at 5 a.m. ET (a complete schedule follows, below).
French Open Tonight, hosted by Bill Macatee, will be back each evening for three-and-half hours of highlights, interviews, analysis and special reports from the tournament grounds and Paris at large. Typically running from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. ET., the show’s set will again be perched above the French Open’s famed Musketeer Plaza, right in the heart of the crowd. Each night at its conclusion French Open Tonight immediately re-airs twice in its entirety all night and early morning up to the start of the next day’s coverage of live matches. Tennis Channel will produce 42 hours of French Open Tonight this year, with 139 overall hours dedicated to the show during the two-week competition.
Tennis Channel has worked with ESPN2 to bring viewers almost non-stop coverage between the two networks, and will do so again. On most days Tennis Channel’s live matches run from 5 a.m.-noon ET, at which point ESPN2 takes the court until 6:30 p.m. ET, then hands it back over to Tennis Channel’s French Open Tonight. French Open Tonight then runs through the night until the next day’s play. Tennis Channel produces all coverage for both channels, with each cross-promoting the other’s schedule and making use of its own on-air team. All French Open production is in high definition.
Since announcing Hall of Famers John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova as lead analysts in 2007, Tennis Channel has continued to add to the star power of its French Open talent roster. New to the team in 2011 is Mary Carillo, one of the most respected sports journalists in the industry, a long-time tennis broadcaster and a 1977 French Open mixed doubles champion with McEnroe. Carillo will host the network’s live tournament desk, conduct interviews, offer perspective and analysis, and handle play-by-play duties during select matches. She will also develop human interest stories and segments during the two-week event. Additionally, Grand Slam winner Lindsay Davenport is back at Roland Garros for the network in 2011, in the first year of her recently signed multiyear, year-round on-air agreement.
Meanwhile, Justin Gimelstob, Corina Morariu, Katrina Adams and Barry MacKay will offer analysis again for the network in Paris this year, along with returning play-by-play men Ted Robinson, Ian Eagle and Leif Shiras. On any given night any one of Tennis Channel’s live-match broadcasters could make an in-person appearance on French Open Tonight with Macatee, and likely each one of them will at some point during the two-week event. In addition to Macatee, the primetime show will feature the talents of Bud Collins, the reporter, broadcaster, writer and expert who has literally written the book on the sport with his Tennis Encyclopedia. They will be joined by Cari Champion, anchor and reporter for Tennis Channel’s year-round Court Report news segment. She will resume the role she held last year, covering the tournament’s grounds and its famous host city, and bringing the off-court bustle and pageantry to viewers back home.
Tennis Channel has streamed live and on-demand matches for free on its Web site, www.tennischannel.com, since it began covering the French Open. This will continue in 2011, with another 10 days of 125 matches and 200 hours of online tennis. However, an upgraded video player will bring it all to viewers at much faster speeds and in high-definition quality. Other new features include picture-in-picture tools, digital video recorder (DVR) capabilities and the option of watching multiple courts simultaneously. In fact, given Tennis Channel’s extensive video-on-demand archives, the Web site’s new video player will allow a site visitor to have up to 20 screens of different matches playing at the same time.
Tennis Channel’s redesigned online video page will again offer daily French Open highlights, player interviews, on-the-ground features and French Open Tonight segments. Other www.tennischannel.com features include real-time scoring, exclusive photos, interactive tournament draws, sweepstakes information and the “Racquet Bracket” tournament prediction game. In addition, veteran tennis reporter Matt Cronin will write for Tennis Channel for the first time during the French Open this year, penning a few columns each week as he begins a year-round presence on the network Web site. He joins returning scribes Steve Flink, Joel Drucker and James LaRosa.
Tennis Channel’s Live 2011 French Open Match Schedule – Entirely in High Definition
(Men’s/Women’s Singles Unless Otherwise Specified)
Date Time (ET) Event
Sunday, May 22 5 a.m.-1 p.m. First-Round Action
Monday, May 23 5 a.m.-3 p.m. First-Round Action
Tuesday, May 24 5 a.m.-Noon First-Round Action
Wednesday, May 25 5 a.m.-Noon Second-Round Action
Thursday, May 26 5 a.m.-Noon Second-Round Action
Friday, May 27 5 a.m.-Noon Third-Round Action
Saturday, May 28 5 a.m.-Noon Third-Round Action
Sunday, May 29 5 a.m.-Noon Round-of-16 Action
Monday, May 30 5 a.m.-Noon Round-of-16 Action
Tuesday, May 31 8 a.m.-Noon Quarterfinals
Wednesday, June 1 8 a.m.-Noon Quarterfinals
Thursday, June 2 5 a.m.-8 a.m. Men’s Doubles Semifinals
Tennis Channel will also offer same-day replays of the singles semifinals (ET):
Thursday, June 2 – 1 p.m.-6:30 p.m.: women’s singles semifinals
Friday, June 3 – 5 p.m.-midnight: men’s semifinals
Tennis Channel’s French Open Tonight Schedule
French Open Tonight airs Sunday, May 22-Thursday, June 2, and typically runs from 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m. ET, and is then repeated twice from 10 p.m.-1:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m.-5 a.m. These are the exceptions are (ET):
Monday, May 23; Saturday, May 28; and Sunday, May 29 – 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m., repeated at 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m., 10 p.m.-1:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m.-5 a.m.
Additionally, shortened encore editions of French Open Tonight will air Tuesday, May 31, and Wednesday, June 1, from 5 a.m.-8 a.m.
ESPN & the French Open: Top-Ranked Nadal, Wozniacki Challenged by Djokovic, Sharapova
Action on ESPN2 HD, ESPN3.com & More Starts Sunday, May 22; Women’s Semis Live June 2
Fans Can Follow the Action Wherever They Are via ESPN Platforms
The best players in tennis will gather on the red clay of Paris for the second Grand Slam tournament of the year – Roland Garros, the 2011 French Open – beginning on ESPN2 HD when the event begins on Sunday, May 22. The network will present more than 56 hours, all in high definition, culminating with the women’s semifinals live Thursday, June 2. In addition, ESPN3.com will have nearly 350 hours of exclusive a multi-court offering, also starting May 22, including simulcasts of ESPN2’s telecasts.
ESPN networks present all four Grand Slam events and have televised the French Open 1986 – 1993 and since 2002. ESPN3.com delivers unmatched broadband coverage of the sport’s four majors and all ATP 1000 and 500 tournaments.
Both sides of the draw present intriguing storylines. Defending and five-time champ Rafael Nadal is the top-ranked male, but this year has lost four finals – including two on clay the last two weeks – to No. 2 Novak Djokovic, who rides a 37-0 record for 2011 into Paris. On the women’s side, world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki seeks her first major title, and may have to seek revenge against Maria Sharapova who beat her en route to winning the championship last week in Rome.
After the opening day, ESPN2’s schedule will continue Tuesday, May 24 – Friday, May 27, and resume on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, and continue to June 2. ESPN2 will generally begin each day at noon – directly following Tennis Channel’s morning programming – and continue until 6:30 p.m., except for June 2 with the women’s semifinals starting at 8 a.m. ET. (See schedule below.) All the action on ESPN2 is also available online through ESPNnetworks.com, which is accessible to fans who receive their video service from an affiliated provider.
In addition, ESPN Deportes, the Spanish-language U.S. sports network, will televise 18 hours from Paris starting Tuesday, May 24, and culminating with the women’s semifinals live Thursday, June 2. Luis Alfredo Alvarez, Toni Pena, Eduardo Varela and Jose Luis Clerc will call the matches, which will be chosen specifically for the network’s audience
Cliff Drysdale, the dean of ESPN’s tennis team, will be joined by Darren Cahill, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver. Chris Fowler will host and call matches. Chris McKendry will also return as an on-site host.
For the fifth consecutive year, ESPN2 is working with Tennis Channel to bring viewers an almost around-the-clock tournament experience, with each channel cross-promoting the other’s schedule. Tennis Channel will produce all coverage for both channels, with each making use of its own on-air team.
ESPN3.com has increased its French Open coverage for 2011 to nearly 350 hours with a multi-screen offering of up to seven courts and ESPN2’s coverage on the days the network is televising. ESPN3.com will begin each day early in the morning with the first ball in the air and continue to the last shot of the day. Matches will also be available after they take place via VOD. The same service –called ESPN360.com – is also available in Latin America with the same programming as in the U.S. with Spanish commentary.
ESPN3.com is ESPN’s live sports broadband network, a 24/7 online destination that delivers thousands of live, global sports events annually. It is currently available in nearly 70 million homes at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or cable TV video subscription from an affiliated service provider. It is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks.
Other ESPN Platforms
Fans will have a variety of ways to follow the French Open with live action and updates on an array of ESPN platforms wherever they are and regardless of whether there is live television offered.
ESPN’s SportsCenter – in particular the live editions from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. ET – will follow the action closely with frequent updates, highlights and reports from Paris, which will include live look-ins during SportsCenter when ESPN2 is on the air.
ESPN.com will provide comprehensive coverage before, during and after the French Open, highlighted by an enhanced Courtcast section – real-time scoring from all courts, plus continuous live polling with results revealed immediately in ESPN2’s telecasts. In addition to all the results, news, analysis, schedules and more, ESPN.com will provide live blogging throughout the tournament so fans can follow the action even when there is no live television coverage. Also, fans can watch Digital Serve daily with ESPN2 commentators discussing the latest action and previewing key matches on the days ESPN2 is on the air. Other details:
- The Latest Dirt – a daily notebook roundup of all the day’s action;
- Center Court – a tennis video show featured each week on all the major news from Roland Garros;
- Star Watch – a blog that will peruse the grounds and give fans an inside look at what the top players are up to.
- ESPN Interactive TV, exclusive to DIRECTV, will present the French Open showing ESPN2 or Tennis Channel’s live coverage along with five other courts available with commentary. Other features include interactive data, the tournament draw, up-to-date scores, and daily order of play.
ESPN Mobile TV, a 24/7 channel for wireless on AT&T U-Verse Live TV, Sprint TV, T-Mobile TV, and MobiTV platforms, will provide 53 hours of live coverage, simulcasting most of ESPN2’s live programming, highlighted by the women’s semifinals Thursday, June 2.
The WatchESPN App, for fans with Apple or Android devices and who receive ESPN’s linear networks as part of their video subscription via Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks or Verizon FiOS TV, will present ESPN2’s live coverage, in addition to ESPN3.com’s multi-screen offering.
ESPN International will present up to 130 hours of the French Open to more than 60 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean on a variety of regional networks. Matches will be chosen based on local interest and commentary will be offered in Spanish, Portuguese and English.
ESPN – All Four Slams, All In One Place
Tennis has been part of ESPN since its first week on the air and provided many memorable moments, but it has never been as important as today, with the US Open joining the lineup in 2009, giving ESPN all four Grand Slam events, something no other U.S. network has ever done, let alone in one year. ESPN has presented the Australian Open since 1984, the French Open since 2002 (plus 1986 – 1993), and Wimbledon since 2003.
ESPN debuted September 7, 1979, and the first tennis telecast was exactly one week later, September 14, a Davis Cup tie, Argentina at U.S. from Memphis with Cliff Drysdale on the call and John McEnroe playing.
Almost all the tennis is found on ESPN2, giving the network the identity as the destination for tennis fans and giving the sport a home that is flexible enough to carry extensive live programming – and adding to the schedule as storylines dictate. In addition, broadband network ESPN3.com, now in nearly 70 million homes, carries thousands of hours of tennis annually, including all four Grand Slam events, plus all ATP 1000 and 500 tournaments, usually with additional, exclusive matches. Also, ESPN Classic shows great matches from the past and the sport receives extensive coverage on SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, Spanish-language ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.
2011 French Open on ESPN2 & ESPN2 HD
Date Time (ET) Event
Sun, May 22 1 – 6:30 p.m. First Round Live & Same-day action
Tue, May 24 Noon – 6:30 p.m. First Round Live & Same-day action
Wed, May 25 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Second Round Live & Same-day action
Thur, May 26 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Second Round Live & Same-day action
Fri, May 27 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Third Round Live & Same-day action
Mon, May 30 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Round of 16 Live & Same-day action
Tue, May 31 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action
Wed, June 1 Noon – 6:30 p.m. Men’s Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action
Thur, June 2 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Women’s Semifinals Live
2011 French Open on ESPN3.com
Date Time (ET) Event
Sun, May 22 5 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. First Round Live & Same-day action
Tue, May 24 5 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. First Round Live & Same-day action
Wed, May 25 5 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Second Round Live & Same-day action
Thur, May 26 5 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Second Round Live & Same-day action
Fri, May 27 5 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Third Round Live & Same-day action
Mon, May 30 5 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Round of 16 Live & Same-day action
Tue, May 31 5 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action
Wed, June 1 5 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. Men’s Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action
Thur, June 2 5 a.m. – 3 p.m. Women’s Semifinals Live
2011 French Open on ESPN Deportes
Date Time (ET) Event
Tue, May 24 Noon – 2 p.m. First Round Live & Same-day action
Wed, May 25 Noon – 2 p.m. Second Round Live & Same-day action
Thur, May 26 Noon – 2 p.m. Second Round Live & Same-day action
Fri, May 27 Noon – 2 p.m. Third Round Live & Same-day action
Mon, May 30 Noon – 2 p.m. Round of 16 Live & Same-day action
Tue, May 31 Noon – 2 p.m. Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action
Wed, June 1 Noon – 2 p.m. Men’s Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action
Thur, June 2 8 a.m. – 12 noon Women’s Semifinals Live