8:00 am, May 15, 2022
Beneath the chic presidential lounge, the edges of the central courthouse come alive. Rafael Nadal’s name, then others, spin on the LED panels for a test demonstration. A new look for a tournament (May 22 – June 5) whose threads are now drawn by Amélie Mauresmo. After the successful player (Australian Open and Wimbledon 2006), the coach on the men’s circuit and the captain of the Fed Cup, here comes the leader of Roland-Garros.
Are you still reminded that you are the first woman to head Roland-Garros?
As the tournament approaches, it kind of bounces back. I understand the symbolism, I’m also very proud of it, but I dare to hope that what I have to contribute goes further than that. And then the impact remains much less strong than when I coached Andy Murray [2014-2016]† There it was very hard, with fierce remarks. Once he lost a match, it was my fault. But we’ve worked well, with great communication, and we’re still in regular contact. I’m happy to see him persevering and being one of the registered players at Roland-Garros.
Once you were hired, you said you wanted to be a “force of imagination.” What were the most important?
Very quickly I suggested adjusting the ceremonies. Before the singles final, there is a small dance-focused show. And the winner’s first speech won’t be delivered until the trophy is in hand. Interviews on the track after the game have also been adjusted. The team of interviewers has been strengthened. Cédric Pioline leaves for the Rolex Paris Masters [directeur]I asked Mats Wilander and Alex Corretja to join Marion [Bartoli] and Fabrice [Santoro]† To make the moment more dynamic, the translation is done directly and simultaneously on the screens. The ten evening sessions are preceded by a DJ set, just to “warm up” the audience.
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Are we going to strive for equality during these sessions?
My code of conduct is sporty. I said it recently at a meeting with the WTA, if there’s the “product,” the female poster, we’ll bring it up. But even before the draw I can hardly say how these evenings will go. I also know that programming will make people unhappy, sometimes with some, sometimes with others.
Is it a real goal to make boxes less scarce at lunchtime?
It’s a big challenge, I’m not the first to tackle it. We implemented the principle of Annexes Up tickets, hoping to increase the turnout on the lower part of the stands if it turns out to be low. The holders of these tickets will be notified by SMS, via the application or on the gigantic screens of the stadium. We also worked with partners to raise their awareness. They have two tickets for one seat, so they too are invested in this filling mission, with guests spread across different slots.
I also know that programming makes people unhappy
Did you take advice from your predecessor, Guy Forget, whose departure was tense?
We talked for a long time before I said yes. It was not easy from a human point of view. But we exchanged without a grudge. It will take more to question our friendship. But we haven’t talked about it since then. It is also good to let some time pass.
Were you aware when Wimbledon decided to ban the presence of Russian and Belarusian players?
Yes, the organizers informed us before making it official. We have taken note of it, but it is true that this is not our position. Even if we regularly brought this topic up on the table internally, we all agreed on a policy of strict neutrality for Russians and Belarusians. They may not be able to tell, but I know they don’t support the invasion of Ukraine. Nevertheless, we will be very vigilant about what they can express, for example in the press. And not at all tolerant when a player crosses the line.
Aren’t you afraid of suddenly losing your General Manager, Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, who was approached to become Minister of Sport?
Yes and no. I doubt he would be interested as it is a position that cannot be declined. It would be fantastic for her. Since she knows all the files by heart, it would be less good for us. And timing issue, just before the tournament, it would be hot.