An evidence. When Amélie Mauresmo was appointed director of Roland-Garros last December, a first for a woman, no one around her fell from her chair. It must be said that the former champion is used to successfully clearing unknown lands, as Camille Pin reminds us.
“I think she broke the codes a lot more as a pioneer when she became coach of Andy Murray (in 2014). Today, this appointment is self-evident. For a woman like Amélie to be the director of one of the biggest sporting events in the world is great, but she’s not because she’s a woman. Above all, she has the legitimacy of being the director of a grand slam tournament as a former world number 1 (in 2006) and two-time grand slam winner. It’s a new era but it’s so logical, ”says the ex-pro player, now a consultant for Amazon.
“When it is invested in a project, it has to go straight”
For almost everyone, this new role as patroness of Roland-Garros was necessarily cut out for her. Except that the 42-year-old former champion says no. “It was not a career plan. I hadn’t considered it but the challenge seemed interesting to me,” assured Mauresmo on May 12 on France Inter.
Well, even if she has always been more comfortable on the grass of Wimbledon than on the clay of the Porte d’Auteuil, we are not obliged to take her word for it either. Because on paper, she has always had the job. “She has this rigour, this framework that she has set herself throughout her career. It is not by doing anything that you become world number 1. When it is invested in a project, it has to go straight. All the requirement that she imposed on herself in her career, we feel it when we work with her. Things have to be done well, ”says ex-player Pauline Parmentier who had Mauresmo as captain in the Fed Cup.
“Roland-Garros is a huge machine but it is very well run”
But is having been a leader on a court or in a locker room enough to get your messages across from an office to the 400 people who work at Roland-Garros? Yes, according to Guy Forget, his predecessor in this position.
“Roland-Garros is a huge machine but it is very well run. When you get in there, you learn new things every month. Amélie will get help, advise, and she will bring her little touch. I’m not worried about her. Amélie loves tennis, she likes this tournament and she is appreciated by all the French people. I am convinced that the feeling will pass very well in this role with the actors of Roland ”, continues the former boss of the tournament (2016-2021).
A first experience as a director at the Open GDF-Suez
Especially since Mauresmo is not at his first attempt. Everyone has forgotten it or almost but the tenniswoman has already led a tournament. From 2011 to 2014, she was at the head of the GDF-Suez Women’s Open where she shared management with Régis Brunet. To him, the management of the tournament, to her the media promotion of the event and the partner relations.
“It went well, until Engie decided to stop the tournament, remembers Régis Brunet. Amélie did her job well, but was a little frustrated not being able to welcome the best players for lack of money. She couldn’t go after what she wanted to do, especially in terms of animation. This will not be the case at Roland-Garros. »
The change in dimension between the Women’s Open and the Grand Slam tournament will surely not be easy to manage. “Roland-Garros is such a liner that the hardest part for her will be to find her place. And I think it will not be easy to do so between Gilles Moretton (president of the FFT) and Amélie Castéra (general manager of the FFT). We will have to see who will make the decisions, who will communicate. I think she has the personality to win, but above all the three have to get along well. The hardest part begins,” continues Régis Brunet.
To make his place, Mauresmo will however be able to rely on his rather unifying personality. “You can have charisma by giving off something very strong, or sometimes very austere. Her, she has a charisma that warms up, believes Camille Pin. We always felt close to her. She was a player who was very sensitive and besides, we sometimes cut her a little on that. But despite this sensitivity, she will transmit this human side. As a director, there is this need for closeness. »
“You want to satisfy as many people as possible but sometimes you don’t like some people”
Very good in relational, Mauresmo is the type to call the players directly to tell them that they have received a wild card for the tournament. Even if benevolence can quickly reach its limits in the thousand things to manage when you are at the head of the tournament.
“When you get up in the morning, there is a ray of sunshine, everything is fine at first sight and then there are lots of problems that arise. There are always trade-offs to be made. You want to satisfy as many people as possible but sometimes you displease some people. It’s not always easy, ”recognizes Guy Forget, who this time will be able to follow the event with a little more perspective as a consultant for Prime Video. The former boss of the place does not say that at random. He remembers well that three years ago, Mauresmo had pushed a big rant against the programming of the two ladies semi-finals at 11:00 am on courts other than the Central.
A 2022 vintage with the air of renewal
Still, the former world number 1 still has luck for her first edition at the head of the tournament. More masks, more curfews, more gauges, a brand new stadium and night sessions finally fulfilled, the 2022 vintage is a bit like that of the renewal of Roland-Garros after two years of health crisis.
“We are in an important period, a period of transition on Roland with a lot of new features last year that will have to be optimized, in particular with the night sessions at full capacity. It will be on a different scale, ”said former player Arnaud Clément. A new tournament page opens, which could prevent Mauresmo from getting into the comparison game. Nevertheless, everyone is waiting to see her at work in this new dive on clay.