French Open draws interesting crowd

Joanne C. Gerstner

Fans try to sneak a peek at ongoing matches by standing on chairs to look inside the court.

PARIS -- The tennis fans who come to watch the French Open are a passionate group. The cheering sections tend to break down by national lines -- with the majority of fans being French -- and they go wild for their home country players. There have also been smaller rowdier groups cheering for Belgian, German and Spanish players. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal seem to come with their own cheering squads, ones that cross all ethnic, language and gender barriers. There are a few Americans here and there, but they're not too loud.

I've heard some awesome soccer chants between points, things you definitely don’t hear at the U.S. Open. The best one came from the Belgians, who were singing the base line from "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes. Not sure what that has to do with tennis, but the song is popular at soccer games here -- just like it's taken off in college football.

The fans have to queue up outside the courts to take their seats during changeovers. But people are impatient, and the creative ones still try to sneak a peek at tennis. I've seen some pretty dangerous moves, like fans standing on wobbly chairs on uneven ground, or some trying to partially climb the fences that frame the court. I haven't seen anybody get hurt -- yet -- but there have been some close calls.