Mauresmo named Roland Garros Tournament Director

Former World No 1 Amélie Mauresmo was named on Thursday as the new Tournament Director of the French Open, replacing Guy Forget, who resigned on Tuesday from both this position as well as the Paris Indoor event.

Yes, I am very proud to be the first woman director of Roland Garros, but I also believe that it is necessary to emphasise why I am here, other [reasons] than my gender. I would like this question to be no longer relevant today. We need to aim and move toward something more egalitarian, regardless of gender. It doesn't matter what gender you are, it's just what skills you have. Amélie Mauresmo, French Open Tournament Director

A former tennis player who attained a career-best ranking of No 4 in the early 1990s, Forget had been the French Open Tournament Director since 2016, while performing the role at Bercy for 12 years.

Under his tenure, Stade Roland Garros underwent major development, with the addition of a retractable roof on Court Philippe Chatrier, the building of a stunning new show court, and the introduction of night sessions with floodlights now available on all courts.

Mauresmo, who won the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2006, will be in place until at least 2024, FFT President Gilles Moretton said.

Inspired to play tennis after watching Yannick Noah win the 1983 French Open, Mauresmo became the first player from France, male or female, to reach World No 1 in the modern era, on 13 September, 2004, and held the top spot for 39 weeks during her career.

“This tournament has made me dream since my early days, has created a vocation in me,” Maursemo told a press conference on Thursday.

She was unable to emulate Noah’s feat of winning on the clay at Roland Garros, never advancing further than the quarter-finals as she struggled with the pressures of playing in front of her home crowd.

Nevertheless, Mauresmo, whose backhand delighted tennis aficionados around the world, won the Fed Cup for France in 2003, and the WTA Tour season-ending championships in 2005.

She also served a France’s Fed Cup Captain and did TV commentary work during Roland Garros this year.

The 42-year old also won the 2004 Olympic singles silver medal in Athens and, after retiring from the game, coached Andy Murray and Lucas Pouille, amongst others.


Amélie Mauresmo coached Andy Murray for two years

© Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images

Mauresmo expressed her pride at being named the Director of Roland Garros, the premier clay-court major in the world and FFT’s principal source of revenue, becoming just the second woman to be appointed as a Grand Slam Tournament Director after Stacey Allaster at the US Open.

“I feel honoured that Gilles [Moretton] wanted me for this position,” she states on the Roland Garros website. “I will put all my energy into this new role, as in everything I have ever done in my life.

“I want to work hard and excel in this new mission. I want to put forward ideas for many of the fields connected with the tournament. I’m definitely stepping out of my comfort zone!

“Roland-Garros, for those that know my story, has been a very important part of my life. This tournament created a vocation within me. I started dreaming about tennis thanks to Roland-Garros!

“At age 4, I sat in front of the television and decided I wanted to become a tennis player, thanks to ‘Roland’… I stayed here in the National Training Centre when I was younger, I played in the grounds… It was my playground!

“This site is still very dear to me, even though the stadium has changed a lot. I qualified at age 15, I won the junior tournament…

“My career here featured many ups and downs, in part due to all those emotions I experienced when I was younger.

“And, after my career, I saw a different side to the event. I have coached various players, been a television pundit, a spectator and a television viewer, too.

“I don’t know if anyone has seen the tournament from more angles than I have…

“This gives me a certain responsibility and a fierce ambition to push Roland-Garros even further. The event is already fantastic, extraordinary.

“We are going to try and make it even better!” she added with a smile.


Amélie Mauresmo, Tournament Director in Paris, believes Iga Swiatek, Naomi Osaka and Ons Jabeur are leading women's tennis into a new and exciting phase

© Christophe Guibbaud/FFT

Asked how she feels about being the first woman ever to be appointed in this position, Mauresmo said at the Thursday press conference: “Yes, I am very proud to be the first woman director of Roland Garros, but I also believe that it is necessary to emphasise why I am here, other [reasons] than my gender.

“I would like this question to be no longer relevant today.

“We need to aim and move toward something more egalitarian, regardless of gender. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, it’s just what skills you have.”

Mauresmo plans to get to work as soon as possible in her new role as French Open Tournament Director.

“First of all, I’m going to meet with the team, get to know them, take stock of the terrific work they do,” Mauresmo said on the Roland Garros website. “I’m going to get stuck in straight away.

“I can’t wait! I’ve talked at length with Gilles and Amélie [Oudéa Castéra, FFT Director General] about my role. Its scope will be very wide.

“Given my background, there are things that will come more easily, like the relationship with the players, with the media, our image in terms of our partners… But I wanted wider-reaching missions. I want to put forward ideas about other subjects.

“The sporting aspect is, of course, my primary concern, but I also want to get involved with subjects like the stadium’s occupancy rate, the responsible and philanthropic aspect of the tournament, tennis for health, the environment…

“These issues are very important to me, and I have already brought them up in our discussions because I want to get involved in all that,” Mauresmo added.

“We found that we were on the same page about the majority of these subjects. Not all, but that’s completely normal!

“We will work on continuing what Guy [Forget] and his team put in place, but the general idea is to go that step further.”


Twitter

Mauresmo has also shown support to Peng Shuai, whose well-being in China remains a major concern.

“Freedom of speech and the speech of women are important subjects,” Mauresmo said on Twitter after the WTA took a major stand against China when it suspended all tournaments scheduled to take place in China next year.

Joining the #WhereIsPengShuai campaign, Mauresmo tweeted: “I’m joining those who demand proofs that Peng Shuai is well and her rape’s accusations will be investigated.

“Proof that she’s free, as everyone has the right to be…”


Twitter

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