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French Open to tighten security in wake of attacks

Posted at 9:15 AM, May 20, 2016

PARIS (AP) — Security will be tighter than ever at the French Open in the wake of last November's Paris deadly attacks.

The French tennis federation (FFT) said there will be three mandatory check points for entry into the Roland Garros tennis complex during the clay-court Grand Slam tournament, and spectators will be subjected to systematic body searches.

The FFT declined to give the precise number of security agents being deployed, only saying it is up by 25 percent compared to last year.

There will also be two perimeters of barriers outside the venue and police sniffer dogs will be used.

"It's true that players sometimes are asking us questions, but they are globally satisfied," French Open director Guy Forget said ahead of the French Open, which starts on Sunday. "They know we took all necessary measures in the past, and that they will be implemented this year again."

There was a breach in security last year when a teenager managed to make it out of the stands and stroll across the court to get near Roger Federer, using a cellphone to try to snap photos.

In the 2009 French Open final, a fan ran onto the court and put a hat on Federer's head, while a man who jumped onto the court with a fiery flare briefly interrupted the final between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer three years ago.

"I believe that people who organize the event and the whole city is 100 percent focused on making the event safe for everybody, not only for the players. For the fans and everybody," Nadal said Friday.

In the wake of the attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead, France remains in a state of emergency which was recently extended by two months and will cover the French Open, the June 10-July 10 European championship soccer tournament and the July 2-July 24 Tour de France.

It expands police powers to put people under house arrest and allows authorities to forbid the movement of people and vehicles at specific times and places.

Forget said the security plan for the French Open, which was devised in collaboration with Paris police, might result in longer queues at the stadium's entrances, where metal detectors will be set up.

A few hours before Friday's draw ceremony, a first aid worker who tried to enter the stadium without stopping at a security check point was asked to line up with fans and journalists in order to be searched.

Top-ranked Serena Williams said she noticed the changes in the security setup.

"That's something I think a lot of the players wanted (...), a little bit more security," she said.