ROLAND GARROS MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 16, 2022
THE MODERATOR: Gilles Moretton, President of the French Tennis Federation; Amelie Mauresmo, Tournament Director; and Amelie Oudea-Castera, Director General of the French Tennis Federation.
GILLES MORETTON: Well, good morning, everyone. I'm really happy to be here with you today. It's an important moment, as it's really the start of the tournament, even though our teams have been working constantly, but we are two months away from D-Day.
We are very happy to be with you, we are very happy also about the fact that the health situation is once again favorable, and the indicators we have are great, so we should be able to have full capacity of Roland Garros, and we will be really happy to be with you, really happy to be back in this place, as I said, at full capacity.
The only thing that will be missing still is the covering up of the Suzanne Lenglen Court, but this will be in the next few years. So I should be able to say that tennis is doing well. I was in Occitania doing a French tour a few days ago. Tennis is doing well, over 950,000 licensees. We were around 943,000 last year. The year isn't over, so we hope to return to the 2010-2011 figures. We are really happy.
The game is really interesting. We saw for the Australian Open the quality of the game, the quality of the play. Although there was a hitch at the beginning of the tournament, we saw the quality of the tennis and also the fact that people were really into our sport.
It's a pleasure I had in all French tournaments, whether it be Montpellier, Marseille, Cherbourg, tennis is there and tennis is doing well. Indicators, quite simple, we opened up the ticketing on March 8. We had 600,000 tickets for sale, and we have already sold 500,000 out of the 600,000.
Chatrier is full for the two weeks throughout the days, and out of the other tickets, they are almost sold out. So the two weeks of Roland Garros are boding well, and we are really eager to see this enthusiasm for this great tournament, this French Open, which every year has great TV coverage in over 222 territories, it's followed throughout the world.
Last year the TV audience grew, whether it be in the U.S., Great Britain, France, with our partner France Televisions, over 38 million viewers with over 7.6 million spectators in the end.
So I'm really proud to be at the head of this Federation, at the head of this tournament with a highly performing team, with the Amelies next to me.
So I lived in this stadium, I played in this stadium, and it's a beautiful place. I must pay tribute to Philippe Chatrier, to my predecessors at the head of the French Tennis Federation, for making this place so beautiful. Really, in 2022, you will see that it has reached its cruise speed, so to say. You will discover new places, a new flow, and I'm really looking forward to these moments together.
As the objective is to present the tournament in details, let me tell you a bit about Amelie Mauresmo. She joined us about three months ago. I have no doubt that she was a great champion, had a great mindset, and was able to move the lines, as we are trying to do, to challenge things, to be innovative, to bring a new vision, a new look.
We knew after the great career she had and her position at No. 1 that she was a hard worker. You might remember that the last time we met here, Amelie said, I'm not going to give you an answer because I have to meet the teams first, but I can tell you she was very well accepted by the teams. Amelie Oudea-Castera will tell you more about that. It's a great pleasure to work with Amelie Mauresmo.
I'm not surprised at all. It's exactly as we expected. She's different. Things that were done before were very well done. We are now doing them differently with a different vision, and I believe it was a good thing for the Roland Garros tournament to have Amelie Mauresmo at the head of the tournament for the next three years.
Amelie, over to you.
AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, thank you, Gilles. Good morning, everyone. I'm really happy to see you a little over three months after I was nominated in December. I felt very proud. But in one day I had to start work, and as Gilles said, I met all the teams.
It took some time to try and understand this huge machinery, but very soon I jumped in the lake, as they say, and I felt a great impetus, a great dynamism, and I feel integrated. I was able to take stock of things quite quickly. Over the past few weeks, I have exchanged a lot with everyone, and I was able to see maybe more specifically the objectives I wanted to have for this tournament.
If I am to give you three points about my vision of Roland Garros, you are journalists and you have been following Roland Garros for a long time. The challenge of Roland Garros today, our challenge, is to preserve, to protect, maintain the soul of the tournament while entering a new era, obviously respecting what has been done by the teams up till now, respecting tradition while entering a new modernity, and this is what we try to do on a daily basis.
I can tell you that it's not that simple in order to find the right balance, and I hope that in the presentation you will hear elements that are consistent with this vision.
The second thing, as you mentioned, Gilles, we are just two years out of COVID crisis, and we hope to have a full stadium and full attendance. For me, Roland Garros means the spring, means terraces, being outside, and we all want to feel this enthusiasm for the tournament.
It's important for me to all get together again and no longer have these barriers that we had, and I hope that Roland Garros will be able to return to this life.
There is another thing, as Amelie says quite often, we are also in a competitive environment. It's important for us to show that Roland Garros is one of the four main pillars, one of the four main tennis events in the world. This is something we have in mind throughout the year, well, at least for me, over the past three months, this is what I have been feeling, and this is important for the teams throughout the year.
So now, let me give you a bit more details about the presentation. But it's important to remember what I just said at the time when we present this Roland Garros 2022, which will return to a full scale, we will renew with all the elements that have been a success for the tournament.
If I look at the chronological order, starting with the qualifying rounds, we really wish to have a three-week event. This is the idea of having a stadium which is more open as of the Wednesday, from the beginning of the qualifying rounds, we want the public to go all the way to the Mousquetaires Gardens so that they can live a different Roland Garros tournament.
We have 10 Euro tickets for the people under 25. We have (indiscernible) for the qualifying round. We felt it was very important to give this premium aspect, and we are highlighting that.
On the Saturday, still going in chronological order, we have the Roland Garros Kids' Day, this charity day. It's a return to this day with all the players, all the main players, and there will be on the various courts where the main courts or annexes, there will be exhibition matches, there will be shows.
We still have some things to define, but we already have quite a good vision. We are going to try to do everything for the children in terms of animations, catering, so that the families can come to Roland Garros and children can start dreaming.
You were saying, Gilles, that tennis is doing well. Well, this new generation is the one that is going to take over, and we want to inject the tennis virus, so to say.
Then we will go to the final draw with the start on Sunday, as usual. I don't know when it started. I was still playing so it's been a long time. We should finish by Sunday, 5th of June, with the men's final. So we have two full schedules starting from the first Monday with a lot of things on the Philippe Chatrier, the evening, and things are going to evolve.
Then looking at the more sports schedule, we are trying to have a sporty schedule, an ambitious one, and innovative one. Let me start with the innovative aspect.
As you can see on the screen, maybe those who want to stick to tradition might be disappointed, but we wanted to be able to align on the four other Grand Slams and we wanted to have a tiebreak at 6-all for the final set. At sports level, to me, it makes sense, because it's consistent with your other Grand Slam tournaments. Because sometimes a player came to a Grand Slam tournament and he didn't know or she didn't know how the match was going to finish. This led to some strange situations but not very funny for them.
So we also took into account the health of the players, because we realized that over a Grand Slam tournament when they ended up with 13-11, 16-14, it's really very heavy for the player at the next round. So we wanted to avoid that. And the idea is to please the fans more, because they tend to like these decisive moments at the end of the match where they hold their breath. For the TV, as well, it gives more visibility, even though there were very few matches that were concerned by these lengthy exchanges.
So that's one of the main changes at sports level, the super-tiebreak, and then you can see 21 events, you see the number of matches, we maintain this Sunday start, which is specific to us, and the players accept more and more.
It's true that when it was inaugurated, I see Chris at the back, I, amongst others, was not that happy. But now we all know that Roland Garros starts on a Sunday, and sometimes some people ask to play on that day. It's a great thing for the sports schedule.
More ambition for wheelchair tennis and quad, wheelchair tennis we increased the number of players, men and women. We had 8. We will have 12 for both genders. It's the first time that all the games will be with equal representation, whether it be the Legends Trophy, the quad, or wheelchair tennis, equal number of men and women.
For wheelchair tennis, we are doing even more to put it under the sports lights, whether it be here or on TV. It will be programmed on Saturdays, and on the second week there will be a match on the Friday and one on the Saturday on the Court Chatrier.
We have an extended role for the quad, 8 players, and the mixed doubles, 32 players, as before the COVID crisis, and Legends Trophy, same number of players of men and women players. So we are innovating for the sports part.
Then here you have the visual representation of what I just explained. You can see that on the Friday and Saturday of the third week of the tournament, wheelchair tennis will be present. From Monday 23rd to Wednesday 1st you have day and evening sessions and a nice show to look forward to.
As I said in December when I came, I told you that one of our priorities was to fill this Philippe Chatrier court as much as possible. It's true that we have a double ticketing system, so it's a double challenge, so to say.
Maybe I should start with the big novelty, and then I will tell you about the staging, which you can see in red. Because we decided that as of this year, we will have LED panels on the Philippe Chatrier, so if you can see, we have tarpaulins all around the Philippe Chatrier.
Here you can see is more video that explains things. You can see the entrance of the players. (Playing video.)
At night we will be able to stage the entrance of the players on the court, even though obviously at 9:00 p.m. it's not really nighttime. There is still some daylight, but we will be able to present a kind of a different show.
So day sessions now, I believe that some of you noted it when we sold the tickets to the licensees, we have these "annexe up" tickets. It was in the pipelines over the past few years, but we weren't able to introduce this with the COVID years because of the COVID crisis, and this is being introduced this year.
For those of you who don't know what it is, it's a possibility for the licensees, because we sell 1,500 "annexe up" tickets every day in the stadium, so when the Philippe Chatrier court is not full, they will be able to have access to the lower stands of this court obviously if there is empty seats.
We also communicated a lot with the partners. We had a lot of exchanges, because the idea is for them to be aware of this issue. In fact, they were very receptive, and we are still looking into this with them to say, Okay, we have a challenge to face and we are going to try and solve that issue, and we will see what happens in 2022 and learn all the lessons from it, but I believe it's quite an interesting energy there, quite a lot of dynamism.
Then I will give the floor to Gilles.
GILLES MORETTON: Yeah, I analyzed how the presidential box was used, and in the past we had a lot of invitations to foreign federations. We have to invite them, of course, but mainly not throughout the whole 15 days.
So we thought that maybe we could actually invite also volunteers. So for the Kids' Day, the Dreams Day, we will have also a dream day for volunteers. Not those that have already been invited but those working on a daily basis and every weekend to support the teams, on Wednesdays to help, to give them a VIP treatment.
I know them well. We have very much presence on the ground. So I think we should pay tribute to them. I know they will be in the box, in the stands, because they are passionate about tennis. Amelie and I, we are really concerned by this. They are people who are passionate about tennis. They should have the opportunity to watch the show, a high-quality show.
AMELIE MAURESMO: And also, we also have this priority for night sessions. We want to make sure that the public is in attendance, so we will announce the matches at 8:45. We will have a small show before the entrance of the players on court. We will have a musical show, 5, 8, 10 minutes, we will determine how long it will last.
The idea is that night sessions should start at about quarter to 9:00, and then the start of play will be at 9:00. Of course the catering in the different areas will be timed, as well, to make sure that we are all in attendance on time for this show of the night.
Then we will all try to be on time for these important Parisian nights. We want to make sure that these 10 nights be the place to be. Maybe for those in Paris but also outside, we want to make sure, Okay, it's Roland Garros, there is a night session, we should go. We want to attend, because this actually also is a sign of the arrival of the summer, and it is an important show.
We wanted to focus also on the player experience. In the past, we might not have had the opportunity to do so, to give a suitable environment for players' performance. We want to make sure that the player has had the ideal preparation ahead of his or her match to be able to give his or her utmost, to give as many breathtaking moments for everyone, all the viewers and all the broadcasters. I'm lucky to be here now when we can actually benefit from it, and we can have a suitable environment.
We will have a rest area, which didn't exist in the past. It did exist in other tournaments but not here. We will also try to limit the area dedicated to players in the restaurants so that they stay close to their relatives, their entourage, and not be mixed with others.
Then there will be areas for the second-tier and third-tier entourage. But we want to make sure that they be there. Before, they would only stay in the locker room, wanted to be on their own, so we wanted to protect that. And we also have new services on string, on transport, as soon as they arrive in Paris, for instance. Everything has been set up. Even for hotels, we have closer hotels that have been booked. I'm not going to get into the detail of everything.
There is also another part relating to players' experience, which is important, to make sure that we have important feelings and feedback from the players, it will be with the on-court post-match interviews. We will have simultaneous written translation of what is being said during the interviews so that we have a full dialogue so that we can actually follow up directly on the questions. And as a viewer, we can have something else, we hope so at least, we want to have something deeper, a real bond, a real emotion. This is why I wanted to focus on this.
Everything that will be following afterwards, maybe here in the media press, there will also be a mixed area, we are all back in attendance, you'll be here physically. This is also a big change because for two years you haven't. We want something more dynamic, and I hope and I think it will actually be suitable to all of you.
With the prize-giving ceremony also, we want to make things more dynamic, more lively towards this moment of emotion that we are all waiting for eagerly, mainly the player hoisting the trophy and the emotions that we will read on her or his face.
Still concerning the player experience, something relating to CSR, as for the catering area, what we wanted was to have responsible catering with short production channels. We also want to give a lot of information on the amount of calories, on whether it's gluten-free or not, for the player to know what they have in their plate and to be aware what they are eating.
And also, we have a new partnership with Renault. Two-thirds of the fleet will be electric. By 2023 it will be a full electric fleet. This is important, because this is where we want to go.
There is also a charity box. It's a big box in the locker rooms. In the past, players would leave racquets, shoes, sometimes broken racquets, actually. Yeah, a lot of things in those boxes. And we will try to make sure that we will collect everything and we distribute everything to associations.
That's actually some of the flagship activities for Roland Garros 2022. We have here the list of partners. Renault is actually taking over from Peugeot. There might be questions certainly, there will be questions, but I'd like to give the floor to Amelie Oudea-Castera.
AMELIE OUDEA-CASTERA: Hello, everyone. I'm sure you now know why we wanted to gather you today. There is a lot of things going on. We will be in full swing with the parity of gender, the focus on quads and wheelchair. We will also have the super-tiebreak but also the LED panels, "annexe up" tickets, the popular atmosphere we want to bring to the tournament but also the enhancements of the player experience, and also this new partnership with Renault.
There is a new approach also for the opening ceremony. So many innovative activities. There are 12. This is the 12th that I'm showing. This is actually a new platform, a new brand platform.
You have seen how many tickets we have sold so far. We have millions of players in the world and billions of fans following us. What we still want to do is make sure that we have a good branding. You know how much brand is important. It needs to be cured, it needs to be maintained. We are in a competitive world, as you may know. There are lots of innovative slogans with the "Pursuit of Happiness" with Wimbledon. "United By Play" at the Australian Open. "A Bid For Glory" also at the US Open. We didn't want to be on the margins and excluded, and this is why we wanted to work on the soul of Roland Garros, to convey a message where we would stand out.
This is why we actually are a mix of tradition and modernity, so I'd like to show you this video that convey the message.
This is our new brand signature, "Move the Lines, With Style." As you can see, we have all our graphic chart with all the displays. We want to show the commitment, audacity, commitment, elegance, and this is the values that we want to convey.
Last word before giving the floor to the president to Ramp Up, of course we still have to talk about the health and safety protocol. We do not have the mask since last Monday, but we still have to organize a protocol, so these are the main guidelines on screen. Of course this will evolve. We will monitor this, of course, throughout these two months.
So there will be no vaccination pass. This will be no longer required. The face mask will be required indoors for medical staff, catering staff, drivers, those accredited who are in direct contact with athletes, and in certain circumstances like press conferences, maybe you will have to wear the face mask indoors.
Of course we will have to ventilate indoor spaces, and we will have also surveillance unit, (indiscernible), including testing people that could show some symptoms.
Also, we would like to take this opportunity of this press conference to say a word on Ukraine. You have seen what we have done on March the 5th last. We have shown solidarity from the whole tennis world, from organizers, licensees, from clubs, with UNICEF. This is an operation where we have already raised 78,000 Euros in less than 10 days. Of course we also wanted Roland Garros to be strongly involved in this initiative with the other Grand Slam tournaments, so we have decided to contribute in the amount of $100,000 in the Tennis Plays For Peace initiative with Sergiy Stakhovsky, for instance, that give rise to a series of activities supported by the tennis players themselves. We tried to raise as many funds as we can to contribute to settlement of this situation, at least from a material point of view.
GILLES MORETTON: Thank you for this presentation. I would like to say a few words of Ramp Up. I'm happy we could have synergies with Amelie Mauresmo and Amelie Oudea-Castera. For tennis, we wanted to move the lines, we wanted to question ourselves. Amelie Mauresmo is big boss and a good boss. As we could see her on court, she's doing the same here.
She's also very much dedicated to performance. She's very much involved in what she's doing. And I have a second Amelie, I'm very lucky, it's actually a cut-and-paste.
We are delighted to have you today for this 2022 edition. For three weeks, I would like to highlight the fact that it will be a full three-week tournament. Qualifying rounds will be difficult because we will have high-quality shows from the beginning, and so we'd be delighted to see you from day one and also answer any question you might have.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Mr. President, but also the two Amelies. Everyone is available to answer your questions. We will give you mics, and then hand them out if you have any questions.
Q. A question for the three of you. With the suspension of vaccination pass, how much enthusiasm do you have especially with regard to the Djokovic case in Roland Garros?
AMELIE MAURESMO: The enthusiasm comes from the fact that everything is behind us now. Our objective is to have the best draw possible. We are ready to abide by any rules that were imposed. The situation may evolve any day in any way. We're not too enthusiastic. We don't want to be too disappointed in the end, as well.
We are trying to be poised and neutral. We are trying to prep the tournament as best as we can, as well as we can. We are sure that the draw will be wonderful anyway.
Q. To follow up on this, we know that some sports have made some decisions with regards to Russia. Has tennis evolved regarding that stance, or will the Russians still play with neutral flag?
AMELIE OUDEA-CASTERA: We all have in mind what the IOC has said. This was actually also taken by the Grand Slams. Competitions in Russia and Belarus are canceled. Everything that is corresponding will be actually suspended, all the participation and the flag will be excluded.
As for the players individually, they will be required to be neutral. There will be no flag, no sign, nothing related to -- there should be no mention relating to Russia or Belarus. This is what we have deployed and imposed on the ground, on court, everywhere.
Today, once again, we will pay a lot of attention to the evolution of the conflict but will stick by this stance. This is also the position that was taken recently by a series of sports ministries, the 27 of EU, but also 10 others, United States, Canada, Japan, and so on and so forth. They have made theirs this principle.
We only banish one individual athlete if he was selected by his country, and if it is done on the selection or by the country. This is the framework and we tried to stick to that.
Q. My question is for everyone regarding super-tiebreaks. We were resisting in the past and many are actually grateful to have adopted this super-tiebreak. Does it mean that you were initiative of this super-tiebreak in Roland Garros, and what was actually the story behind this? Were there other options?
AMELIE MAURESMO: It was not one more than the other. All the Grand Slams wanted to be aligned. That was priority No. 1. We wanted to be consistent, we wanted to make sure that fans, players could understand and also media could understand rules.
That's the central idea of this change. Were there other options? Maybe you could have a normal tiebreak or super-tiebreak, but that's just on the margin. As far as I'm concerned, preserving players is important but also interest from fans, from viewers. I can understand that some may not like it. We can't make everyone happy. We are aware of it.
But as a Grand Slam, all the four Grand Slams had to work in the same way. We couldn't stand out on this point. We have had some discussions in the past with Amelie Oudea-Castera. This discussion was actually going on before I arrived, and we agreed on that point.
GILLES MORETTON: A year ago I became president of this Federation, and we have had discussions with the T7, we have had good relationships with our counterparts from the IOC, presidents of other Federations, beyond this single point, the end of match in Grand Slams. We wanted to work together more closely. That was actually the idea.
Just as the Davis Cup was in the past, we had (indiscernible) of the sport, and we have this willingness to work together hand in hand. But also on other subjects. We won't tackle them today, but we really wanted to be more responsible. We were working on our own, you know, having our own Grand Slam, and we have always wanted to have our own identity, but we can still have that with our grand signature, for instance, but we have a common interest. We need to defend tennis at large. We are one of the most important pillars of this tennis world.
AMELIE OUDEA-CASTERA: We talk a lot together. At the Australian Open, something happened also. Just like giving the Olympic flame at the end of the Australian Open, they displayed a small video and they said, Paris, it's your turn. We want to do the same with Wimbledon, for instance, the four of us, we want to work hand in hand, we are the pinnacle of tennis, and we want to highlight that.
Q. How about the budget for the organization of the tournament? Could we have some figures? And also, after two years that were quite strange in terms of organization, are you trying to reconquer viewers, spectators, fans from Paris? How about hospitality activities amongst the 600,000 tickets you were mentioning? Are we talking about the public at large only? How many people are you expecting? What is your target audience in terms of spectators when we also count all the invitations, partners, so on and so forth?
AMELIE OUDEA-CASTERA: On the Philippe Chatrier during the day for the 15 days of the final draw, it should be full. Out of the 150,000 night session tickets, 100,000 tickets were already sold out in seven days.
We were quite astonished. Every day 40,000 people will come in our stadium on all courts together, and then there will be a thousand people who are accredited and who help with the organization.
As for the budget, when we arrived there were 94 million of debts. Every day we try and avoid useless expenditure. Every day we try to be efficient. For every Euro that is invested, we want to have a good return on investment, but we also want to invest in our tournament to have a great tournament.
We need to have a virtuous circle that will actually have a ripple effect on the clubs, on all the other tournaments. This is a specific feature of our tournament. We want to maintain this, but we're always trying to make sure this tournament excels.
Q. Concretely what does it mean in figures, in Euros?
AMELIE OUDEA-CASTERA: What can I say? Well, a beautiful tournament with full capacity in 2019 it was 261 million Euros of turnover. The two previous years of course didn't have the same figures, of course.
But we are working a lot of revenue on broadcast. We have signed important deals with Discovery, for instance. We are working on making our tournament attractive for the whole world but also we are working on partnership.
Last week we explained all the partnerships we have forged and are eager to invest in our tournament.
Q. (Off mic.)
AMELIE MAURESMO: (Indiscernible) about his return on the court.
Q. So you're confirming that Djokovic might participate in the next tournament?
GILLES MORETTON: Well, we know there is a virus which is still on. We are quite confident we all know the lights are green, but we have to be very cautious in view of what happened over the past two years.
So unfortunately we don't know what's going to happen. If the government were to introduce new actions, we wouldn't be excluded from that. We don't know. For the moment, we all think that the lights are green, and it's a go-ahead.
Q. About the super-tiebreak, is it also for ladies? Second question, in Bercy you had a special bottle for every player, or will you exclude plastic bottles? What will you do?
AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, to answer your first question, it's also for ladies and not for mixed doubles and not for doubles, for wheelchair, and junior doubles. These are the few exceptions to the rules.
And, yes, we will respect the law, so we are working on this issue of plastic bottles. We didn't present this as an innovation, because we didn't start at the RPM with that.
Q. Could we think in a very short term of having semifinals or finals for women in five sets?
AMELIE MAURESMO: What do you mean by "very short term"? For the moment, it's not on the table, but maybe one day, who knows? Gilles and Amelie were talking about the cohesion and consistency between the various Grand Slam tournaments, and I believe it will deserve a discussion. We will probably exchange on that to reach that solution or not. Anything goes at this time, but maybe it will happen, yes, possibly.
GILLES MORETTON: To pick up on what Amelie said, there is a constant dialogue with these other tournaments, sometimes late at night because of the time lag with the other tournaments, but on many aspects, if we have to make headway and work together, we will. This is not an aspect which we can work on in isolation.
Q. We know that one of the issues at Roland Garros is filling up the Chatrier. You talked about the stands. Very often the audience is scattered, and it shows even more with the new seats. Sometimes it's a problem for TV to show a half-empty stadium. Have you taken any decisions, when people leave, have you planned on something, for example, for people who are waiting to come in, can they use the tickets of the people who are leaving? For the central court, I'm talking.
AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, apart from the "annexe up" tickets that can fill part of the stadium, you're talking about the people who leave and could give their tickets, we do have a small constraint. Someone else could tell you better than I can.
There is a problem of fluidity in the stadium, because you have 15,000 people coming in for the evening session. I believe it's the 6:00 p.m. or 6:30 p.m., these people can come in.
So I know that this time it might be a bit complicated to introduce that solution. People have to try and stay a bit longer in the stadium, but we will work either with the app or via text messages. We can't tell you everything today, but this is a priority, as I said.
It's a common concern. We know clearly that it's an issue, and we are doing our best honestly, and as of this year we are going to do our best to give a more consistent visual for the event.
Q. Do you talk about that with the other Grand Slams? We get the impression that it's only Roland Garros. In the Australian Open there is not that many seats or in Wimbledon?
AMELIE MAURESMO: No, maybe not so much in Wimbledon, but I can tell you that in the Australian Open it was the case.
Q. Did you ask them how they tried to give the impression that the compound is full?
AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, maybe Wimbledon it's the case, but to me visually, it's not the case in the US Open or the Australian Open, especially for the 11:00 a.m. matches. But let's focus on what we do. Let's start to introduce new actions, and then we will take stock at the end of the tournament.
GILLES MORETTON: I would say that Wimbledon may be somewhat different. Maybe it's the color of the seats. You may be right. But Wimbledon is a separate case. We know that culturally they can queue for two days outside to get their tickets, so things work in England and not elsewhere.
They can stay seated from morning to evening, not move. But for the presidential stand, we are doing our best. They do their best to make sure that everybody is there as of the beginning of the match, and we will do that, as well. We will make sure that no meals start at the same time as the match.
As we said, we covered quite a lot of topics, but the main concern that we try to share with all the teams is that the main client is the player, the sportsman, the athlete. We are here because there are athletes on the court.
It doesn't mean we are ignoring our partners or you. We know that we have to improve things for the media, the journalists. We have heard some of your observations also about the volunteers, about the fans, the fans' experience and the players' experience that Amelie mentioned, for example, in the locker rooms.
That's a concern. As Amelie said last time, we want the players to say Roland Garros is the best tournament in the world, and this is based on the reception we gave them, and it starts from the moment they get off the plane till the end. It's important also for spectators. We want to make it possible, and I believe we can.
Q. It's a regional question. Amelie, is it difficult to reconcile your life in the Basque Country and your job in Paris?
AMELIE MAURESMO: No. For the moment I do a lot of things with video conferences. That's one of the good things that came out of the COVID crisis, because to me, before that, either through technology or other elements, I couldn't have accepted to be the director of the tournament and still live in the Basque Country.
Obviously I'm aware of the fact that as we get closer to the tournament I will have to stay in Paris longer. But it's organized and I will take stock afterwards. But for the moment, I'm really working and not thinking about anything else.
Q. (Question about Fan Experience.)
AMELIE OUDEA-CASTERA: Well, once again, we are working on it. This wasn't sufficiently well-defined for us to tell you about the nonfungible tokens, (indiscernible) possibility of having the right on the digital possibility. Australia has started it, you can have a virtual visit of the Australian Open, so we want this to be a possibility to expand the experience.
We get 40,000 people here every day, while we want, thanks to the digital experience, to offer this type of experience to the others. We are lucky enough to have Gael Monfils who is really into this, and he's going to support us with this aspect. You will see something as of 2022.
GILLES MORETTON: These decisions have to be made by the executive committee. We have some people from the executive committee in the room, and we all agree we have decided that it could be done. (Indiscernible) which I know well and which I have complete mastery of.
Q. I have a question about the Russian players. You already explained about that. You said you were also very careful about all the meetings between sports ministers. Yesterday the minister of sports in Great Britain said that it was not sufficient to play without the Russian flag, and he said that the tournament should only be accessible to players who are clearly against Putin. Do you think the public authorities have the same position? How are you going to ask...
AMELIE OUDEA-CASTERA: Well, we constantly have a dialogue and a discussion with Sally Bolton, who is my peer for England, and we talked about the answer of Nigel Huddleston in the Commons.
Well, our minister of sports, Roxana Maracineanu, has mentioned this meeting of March 9 with all the ministers of sports of the EU plus a number of other countries. We are very careful about this these feelings. We have seen at Indian Wells there is a lot of emotion, but we want to stick to our position for the moment because we feel it's a fair position and the right one to hold.
Q. Do you have any regrets about the new design of the central court? If you had to design it yourself, would you rather have stands (indiscernible) as in other tournaments?
GILLES MORETTON: Yes, to be honest, we have some regrets, but some things are ongoing. All year we have the world to have general public alongside the court, but honestly, there were technical constraints that were explained to me and which mean a number of things couldn't be done.
So no comment, no need to enter this discussion, but it's a topic that I have seen for a while. I went to the U.S., I had a few ideas, but I wasn't really into the trade. But I believe we could have done things differently, yes. But it can still be full with this particular architecture. We need to face the challenges.
AMELIE MAURESMO: This is no time for regrets. We could challenge everything. We have this new stadium which enables us to do a number of things we couldn't do before, and it's up to us to find the right solutions to make sure that the court is as full as possible.
I tend not to look back and to rather look ahead and see what solutions we can offer. Well, it would probably deserve some specific analysis. Honestly, we will adapt to that.
AMELIE OUDEA-CASTERA: Well, evening sessions weeks, want to make sure that the stands are full as of the first ball point at 9:00 p.m.
THE MODERATOR: We are going to open up for questions on Teams with an international audience.
Q. My question is about the vaccination pass. If the rules were to change at the last minute, could we end up with a situation like in Australia with someone who is invited and cannot participate?
AMELIE MAURESMO: The question was not very clear, so weren't able to hear, but we got the gist of it.
AMELIE OUDEA-CASTERA: Well, we have learned to be very cautious. We know that things can change from one month to the other. But now we have an idea we can understand the impact on the major ecosystems like great sporting events, great international, large-scale international sporting event.
So we have everything that is necessary to organize the health protocol, and don't forget that if it were to be a bad scenario, we can always after sanitary bubbles. We will be diligent, pragmatic, and the idea is not to send players who came to play back home. We want to be able to predict things as best as possible so that players can play the tournament.
Q. Picking up on the question about Russian players, to clarify things, you're not going to investigate in depth the Russian players to check their link with Vladimir Putin? And second thing, what is the deadline for players to register for Roland Garros? It seems to be 11th of April.
AMELIE OUDEA-CASTERA: Well, to answer your question, we want to hold to our line. We want to have a uniform line. We impose to Russian and Belarusian players to be strictly neutral, and at this stage we are not going to go into details about individual situations, because they can be highly dependent on their family situations.
So we want to stick to this principle, the principle which has been adopted by all the EU sports ministers plus all the other countries, and this is the line we want to hold together.
Q. (Question about tiebreaker.)
AMELIE MAURESMO: Yes, exactly, we all took the decision together.
Q. (Question about prizes at Roland Garros, food, catering.) Are you going to do something about that?
AMELIE MAURESMO: Yes, of course, everything free for you.
AMELIE OUDEA-CASTERA: We will take everything into consideration. We haven't been into these specifics yet. We are trying to work that you eat better when you are in Paris.
Q. (Question about mental instability of players.)
AMELIE MAURESMO: We didn't hear all the question, but my understanding is you are asking about what happened with Naomi last year and again in Indian Wells? If that's the case, am I going to answer on this?
Q. (Question on providing assistance for players.)
AMELIE MAURESMO: That's what I'm saying. We will have a number of people like the crisis board, and we will be responsive starting with me as a kind of the first person to receive the complaints, and then we will direct the players if there is a problem towards professionals that will happen in the best possible way the problem.
We will also, in advance of the French Open the weeks before, couple months before, as Amelie mentioned, we see already that the emotions are really, really hard sometimes to handle for some players, so we even make sure that we are prepared even weeks before for these situations that we can respond to it in the best possible way.
To be more specific on Naomi, I talk to the agent, exchange of messages with her, and we are all in a good position for this year's Roland Garros. I didn't talk to her since what happened in Indian Wells, obviously, but expect more news in the next few weeks, but we are really prepared for what might or might not come on this side of the mental health part for this year.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports