Director of the Roland-Garros tournament, chosen in December 2021 by the president of the federation Gilles Moretton, Amélie Mauresmo is the guest of Europe 1 Sport. The former world number 1 answered this Sunday questions from the head of the sports department Jean-François Pérès and Axel May. An interview to be found in full in Europe 1 Sport, presented by Lionel Rosso.
As the Parisian Grand Slam tournament opened on Sunday, the first under his direction, Amélie Mauresmo, 42, gave an exclusive interview to Europe 1. Successor of Guy Forget, the former quarter-finalist at Roland-Garros talks about her responsibilities as tournament director, her adaptation to her role, her favorites and all the changes made to this tournament, including the highlighting of wheelchair tennis.
His adaptation to his new role: “It’s a real challenge for me”
“The adaptation has been good. The reception from the teams has been good. It was a great discovery for me because although I may be part of this tennis family, tennis may have been my whole life for a very long time. , but moved to the organizational side for a tournament like Roland-Garros, a tournament of this magnitude, I was not really aware, already, of the number of people behind it and of all the little details that were important in this kind of event. But in reality, we’re talking about an international event that generates so many different trades that it’s events. I obviously keep this vision on sport, but everything else is is events, on a huge scale. So it was a discovery. But it’s also very interesting, and it’s a real challenge for me to get up to speed as quickly as possible. I hope it good that I did the job. It was very instructive for me. I learned a lot, I learned a lot listened, I played, I observed. I also arrived with a vision for the whole sporting part, everything that is more visible, with the desire to move the lines in certain areas and that’s what I was able to do to a certain extent, which will also continue for future editions. For this 2022 edition, I am quite satisfied. I couldn’t wait to get to the heart of the matter.”
His two priorities: “The well-being of the players and filling the stands”
“At Roland-Garros, we ran out of space for a long time, which meant that all player spaces were restricted. I compare it to Wimbledon, the Australian Open, which have hectares and hectares of land, spaces where we could find privacy, rest, concentrate, have fun. What interests me is that the player arrives on the field and can express himself 100%. I found that it was not so easy to do it here at Roland-Garros. We really tried to free up all the catering spaces. We also set up rooms to sleep for a while if he wishes, to try that “they find a space here, the most restful place possible. When you’re a player, you spend a lot of time at the stadium. We expect a lot and not always optimal conditions. We also put them closer to the stadium… C It’s full of little details. It was definitely a look I wanted. But there have been others since. was really my vision from the outside. The filling part is a real challenge because for now, it’s been years that as a spectator or television viewer, we say to ourselves ‘ah, it’s a shame, between noon and two, the lower part is not full .’ So we tried this year to set up side tickets up, which had already been in the works for some time. We hope, thanks to that, when we see that attendance is low, to tell them ‘come to the Philippe-Chatrier court, you will have the opportunity to stay for half an hour, an hour, two hours.’ We have to try, we will take stock at the end. I think that to fill this stadium is a challenge that is very difficult to meet. Make no mistake, the stadium is not going to be 100% full from A to Z, from the first day to the last. We are trying to put things in place so that it circulates on the Chatrier.
On the introduction of the Super Tie-Break in the fifth set: “We have to show unity”
“In fact, the general public is not always aware of the rules of tennis. And even less when the four Grand Slams end in four different ways. We, at Roland-Garros, ended with a gap of two games in the last set. Which could lead to 10-12, 15-17, etc. It can be very long. Wimbledon was on a seven-point Tie-Break in the last set at 12 all. The Australian Open was on a ten-point six-all Super Tie-Break and the US Open a seven-point six-all Tie-Break. In short, you didn’t understand anything I said. But that’s normal because that no one understood. The idea was really for the four Grand Slams to start showing unity. So obviously, it’s sad to think that we won’t see these extended matches again. But despite that , for well-being and physical health too, maybe it’s not worse. I think the Grand Slams today, at a time when tennis is facing a lot of c competition, whether it’s on TV, whether it’s in practice, etc., I believe in showing unity to try to move in the same direction.”
On Carlos Alcaraz, the 19-year-old Spanish prodigy: “Is he ready yet?”
“I watch him evolve with great interest. First as a tennis fan, because I find that he has an energy, a style of play, an already incredible charisma. His precocity means that it is also very impressive. For the record, when I worked with Lucas Pouille three years ago, in 2019, we saw it, Lucas had trained with Carlos, who was 16. He has since grown, he has grown in size. Some say they spotted him much earlier. He had something about his attitude. But anyway, it’s impressive to see the progress he’s made, and then mentally, the way he has to manage all that, he already has an incredible maturity. He is surfing on a wave of confidence which is not to be neglected either. When we beat the best before arriving on a Grand Slam and that we have won titles, it is a huge confidence. After doing this whole journey in the best of five sets, is he already ready?
On Djokovic: “He has revenge to take”
“I think he is hungry. When you know his character, you know that he is also sometimes built in adversity. I think he has revenge to take on what happened in Australia. This race they have with Rafa, that too, I know is in him. It’s a huge motivation so I think he is gaining momentum.”
On Iga Swiatek (World number 1): “The great favorite of this Roland-Garros”
“Clearly, I see her as the big favorite of this Roland-Garros. She is quite impressive all the same, we have the impression that mentally, she goes through all that with great ease, an incredible naturalness. She dominates, indeed. So it will be interesting to see if this player who won a Grand Slam (at Roland-Garros, in 2021), manages to settle down a little bit with the stoppage of Ashleigh Barty (Ex-world number 1), to settle down as the patroness of tennis. We are waiting for that, one, two or three players who manage to dominate a little more and almost share the Grand Slam tournaments to find this rivalry that has existed for many years. years in men’s tennis, but which also existed in women’s tennis. If we are on this road, it would be good news.”
On the situation of French players: “The great champion, the great champion, we can train him”
“Jo-Wilfried (Tsonga) and Gilles (Simon), they are quite simply going to play their last Roland-Garros. Jo will play his last match here. Gilles has decided to continue a little longer in the season, but it is true that they belong to a generation and inevitably, there will be emotion seeing them leave the stage. We have planned things for them, but I don’t want to say more. It’s half a page that turns since there are still Richard (Gasquet) and Gaël (Monfils). For the moment, we are looking back and we are not at that level. We are not at the level they reached. They were at a at one time or another in the top ‘ten’ (top 10). So it’s true that it’s very complicated. We won’t necessarily find tomorrow a generation of four players like that who reach the top 10. So that, it’s “is one thing. I believe that the great champion, the great champion who is going to lift a Grand Slam trophy, we can train him. But he will train, he will come out after all on his own. You have to train him techn only give it a good foundation. But I’m not far from thinking that afterwards, on the last step, it’s in the belly of the player that it happens and it’s up to them to put in place the structures, the people, the good people, to look in the mirror also to point the finger when it’s not going well, to accept it and to make sure to move forward when it is. It is obvious that we are a great tennis nation. We have a grand slam at home, we want to see our players shine, that’s clear.”
On wheelchair tennis, present on the central court this year: “We must highlight wheelchair tennis”
“It was really a desire for openness, for inclusion. And we decided to offer wheelchair tennis on Friday and Saturday on the last week of the tournament. On Saturday, it will be a final, that’s for sure. On Friday, it could still be a semi-final. We’ll see depending on the schedule, depending on whether we have French people still in the tournament. I think we should also highlight wheelchair tennis, among other things, too because we have the Paris Olympic Games coming up, the Paralympic Games. It seems natural to me to do it and I hope that the public will also be there for these matches.