Paris - French tennis chiefs claimed final victory on Thursday in the bitter and long-running controversy over plans to expand Roland Garros, the historic but cramped Paris home of the French Open.
"Jeu, set et match for the FFT," the French Tennis Federation (FFT) declared in a statement after a Paris court rejected appeals from heritage associations and environmental groups pressing for the work to be halted.
The Paris Administrative Tribunal said it was rejecting appeals against issuing building permits and moves to prevent the construction of a new stadium inside the "historic triangle" of Porte d'Auteuil which neighbours Roland Garros.
Opponents have fought a long battle to prevent the new-look Roland Garros taking shape as they claimed it would endanger a number of 19th century greenhouses sited in the Serres D'Auteuil botanical gardens.
A new 5 000-seat court is planned for the gardens while the showcase Philippe Chatrier Court will by 2020 be fitted with a retractable roof as part of a €400m expansion of the site.
"It is a great victory for tennis and the federation," FFT director general Jeremy Botton told AFP before adding that the new site will be completed between 2018 and 2020 as planned.
Roland Garros, which would also play a crucial part in Paris's bid to host the 2024 Olympics, is by far the smallest site amongst the sport's four Grand Slam tournaments.
"It's disgusting," Agnes Popelin, of the France Nature Environment pressure group, told AFP of Thursday's decision.
"We are sacrificing once again, for pseudo-economic reasons, the flagship of the botanical gardens of Paris, to serve tennis 15 days a year."
She also criticised the timing of the decision, coming just a day before officials behind the Paris 2024 Olympic bid are due to deposit their dossier with the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.
Paris is fighting Los Angeles and Budapest for the right to host the Olympics ahead of a final decision in Lima in September this year.
"I do not see how Paris 2024 can claim to be ecological," said Popelin who believes the extension of Roland Garros is "a nice gift to the bid's competitors, especially the United States".