An Homage to the Ball Kids at Roland Garros

The Roland Garros 2022 official poster designed by Louise Sartor © Christophe Guibbaud/FTT


The French have made art part of the majesty of the French Open (May 22-June 5 this year). The official posters have become a fascinating part of the tournament. Starting with 1980, the grand slam tournament has entrusted its official poster to an artist every year, transforming it into a cultural symbol. I love it how the French still make things that can preoccupy people who are not enslaved by smartphones, broadening our interest in and the conversation around tennis and sport. This year’s official poster is designed by French artist Louise Sartor. In 2021, Sartor was invited to the tournament to live the experience and she was immediately drawn to the precision, agility, skill and choreography of the ball kids, who have never been the subject of the official poster before.

The ball kids are a discreet yet essential part of a tennis tournament and, at Roland Garros, their expertise sets a standard for others to follow. “Every year, following a rigorous selection process and training, 250 youngsters aged 12 to 16 – all of them registered with the FFT and hailing from every region in France – have the privilege of treading the clay courts at the Porte d’Auteuil for the three weeks of the tournament. Their one and only objective is to achieve excellence,” say the tournament officials.

Louise Sartor is a graduate of the École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris and the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In her formative years, she drew largely in black and white, before starting to concentrate on painting and colours, using mainly watercolour techniques. Today, she “daringly mixes opaque watercolours on recycled paper”. Influenced by Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet and Piet Mondrian, Sartor is “a resolutely figurative painter who works in small formats and preferably on recyclable materials such as cardboard and recycled paper”, which she also used for the Roland Garros poster, “allowing it to dry slightly and then rubbing it to lend density and texture to the colours.”

“I observed the gestures, the decor and the context a lot. I saw it as a show. It’s very beautiful,” Louise Sartor revealed as her approach to the subject matter. “They are impressive with their level of concentration despite their young age. It reminded me of my own preteen years when I was drawing and being as focused as them.” The poster depicts a ball kid by the net, head out of frame, focus on the static posture of the body, ready to spring into action. Shadows are cast by the tennis net on the skin, light is beautifully used transporting the viewer to the tennis court and clay surface under the intense May and June sunlight heralding the arrival of summer in Paris. This year’s poster has a timeless quality to it, embodying not only the beauty of the sport I love so much – its vibrancy, elegance, concentration – but also the special atmosphere of Roland Garros.


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