Roland-Garros – Mauresmo wants to impose his touch on the tournament: “Find the balance between tradition and modernity”

How do you approach this new adventure?

Amelie Mauresmo: This is my first edition, so I can’t wait to discover the truth behind this Roland-Garros director role. Because, as I said, there were a lot of consultations, preparation, arbitration, choices that had to be made. What are we going to develop? What are we going to change? Lots of things have been put in place. And then there are those three weeks. We will see the intensity. What am I going to prioritize over other things? So I can’t wait.

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As a tournament director, have you questioned your relationship with Roland-Garros?

MON: It only really came when I was approached, when Gilles (Moretton, chairman of the FFT, editor’s note) approached me. I said to myself, “Hey… What does this tournament mean to me? What is Roland-Garros to me?” All the positive or negative emotions, the sadness, the joy, everything that has been mixed up since then. Since I was four years old, in the eyes of the little girl who saw Roland-Garros on television and with the victory of Yannick (Noah). That was really in the beginning. And after that ? I got to the heart of the matter very, very quickly. Perhaps, when decisions have to be made, unconsciously, there is this vision of Roland-Garros that takes this side of a little tradition. We sometimes don’t want to touch what makes the tournament. But there is also the desire to bring it into a slightly more modern era. That balance can be found there.

Player interviews and trophy presentations are changing

You are the first woman to reach this position after being the first coach of a Top 5 member, Andy Murray. Is breaking barriers a supposed goal or just your destiny?

MON: It is not at all a motivation to actually break down all these barriers. Yes, it’s a destiny, it’s my life. That’s how it is. I’m not looking for it either. When we talk about everything that’s happened to me over the past 20 years, I think we’re coming for very specific things. For the character traits, the quest for excellence, the concentration I’ve been able to show over the years, and probably the high standards too. I think I was asked for that more than my gender.

What will change for spectators and television viewers?

MON: So there are many things. Obviously, the Philippe-Chatrier court will be perhaps the most visible. We have fitted it with LEDs. The historic tarpaulins of Roland-Garros are over and we really started with this idea to be able to use this space in a different way, respecting the exposure of the partners, but to be able to propose a scenario for the entry of the players. , more modern. Back then, still for the viewers, I really wanted to change the way the interviews take place right after the games. So we did something much more dynamic. Trophy awards will also be changed. What interests me is the privilege of emotion. And then, beyond that, on the evening sessions, I wish we’d offer a little more entertainment for some sort of ramp-up. We also have wheelchair tennis that will be played on this Philippe-Chatrier pitch for the first time.

Why did you expand the tables of wheelchair tennis?

MON: It’s a matter of honesty. We told ourselves we wanted the top ten, at least on our plates. We were eight in wheelchair tennis or four in quad, so we went to eight in quad (which is a little less popular) and a table of twelve in wheelchair tennis, which gives us the top ten men and women. So that was really a question of fairness and the ability to play in front of more people. Then it is a question of visibility at the exhibition. There are still quite spectacular matches. So we really wanted to bring this event to the fore. I believe we have a responsibility for inclusion. From this point of view, we also have a responsibility in the perspective of Paris 2024, the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A responsibility to promote women’s tennis, but not quotas

Will there be changes in the programming to bring even more attention to women’s tennis?

MON: In fact, the problem is to place the matches that interest most people at the best time. As soon as we have nice posters on the men’s side, on the women’s side, we will of course push them forward. Of course we are responding to the demand from television and the public to have these matches at the front of the stage. As for women’s tennis, I think we see this new generation: Iga Swiatek, Naomi Osaka as she regains her consistency at the highest level, Ons Jabeur who also offers a completely different game. And I hope Roland-Garros spectators will appreciate it, while we’ve been criticizing women’s tennis for years because of its stereotypical side. And it’s also up to us to bring all of this out so that people and audience, viewers, really have this reflex. We have a responsibility to promote fairly, even though we know that men’s tennis is going through an incredible period right now.

Mauresmo: “Programming nighttime sessions is going to be one of the challenges of my role”

Will there be quotas with, say, 50% of female matches in night sessions?

MON: No no no. It wouldn’t make sense to think that way, but that’s what I thought before I got the job. For once, I think last year, and I think, there were two or three women’s competitions and it made sense to me. It’s my opinion, but I think I’ll have more feedback and the real feedback that will be for me at the end of the tournament when I’ve experienced exactly these arbitrations to make.

Henin: ‘Tsonga can leave with regret, but above all with his head held high’

Why don’t you rule out the Russians? “We don’t want to punish the individual”

What do you say to the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina who is campaigning for the exclusion of the Russians from the tournament because they would be a showcase for the regime of Valdimir Putin?

MON: I hear and understand all the pain. We all follow, we see everything that happens in Ukraine. I can’t imagine what she’s going through, what her people are going through. We actually had to position ourselves and we decided to follow the statement of, in particular, the sport ministers of the European governments. And when she says we welcome Russian players, I don’t quite agree, because we will apply the strict neutrality that is required of them. No flags, no mention of the country, neither on the signs nor on the panels, no national anthem. We don’t want to punish the individual in any way. This is our position.

Have you prepared anything special for the retirement of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, whose career has scarred many people?

MON: We take care of this moment. You will see. But beyond the recognition of the tournament, I think to have discussed it with him, it’s an important moment. It is of course also a form of relief, he will certainly speak out. But I think it’s normal to offer him this last opportunity (wildcard), especially in relation to the public. I think he should be able to share that with the people who will be in the stadium and will definitely be moved and touched. He’s always been very charismatic and I think it’s going to be a fun moment to watch, although it will probably bring tears to our eyes.

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