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June 1, 2022

Amelie Mauresmo

Paris, France

Press Conference

(In French.)

AMELIE MAURESMO: Thanks to all of you for being here. We all had a late night last night. Sorry for the cancellation on Monday, because there were other subjects to tackle. So I had to put it on the back burner for a few days.

We'll start in French and do the English questions afterwards.

Q. One of your priorities was to improve the comfort of players. How come you oblige them to play so late last night and against their will? Because I'm sure that most of the players didn't want to do so.

AMELIE MAURESMO: Obviously it's not simple. It's the first year that I'm the tournament director. I'm learning a lot of things regarding the scheduling of the tournament. Having such late matches could actually trigger some questions. I'm wondering about it myself, to be honest.

We will actually have a feedback session on this at the end, but it's just 10 matches overall. So we could say 10 matches with one day off afterwards to come back to regroup and to have a new match two days after, is it enough or not? For Rafa, that implies coming back two days after.

I do not have the answer yet, because we actually see a day at a time and will certainly ask ourself what to do next and we will try to do some debriefing to see what worked out well, what didn't work out well with some hindsight, and it definitely will be on the table.

Just one thing that popped into my mind, they finished at quarter past 8:00 for the penultimate match. So, you know, basically we could have started just half an hour earlier. That's all.

We know that now the Roland Garros late matches will actually start later.

Q. I would like to follow up on the question. This morning I had several colleagues saying, but, you know, why? We know that there is a lot at stake financially speaking because we have Amazon Prime funding the thing, but what about the public? What about the journalists? We could have ended up at 3:00 in the morning, it's during the week. I'm sure that you are hopping on the train along the side, but...

AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, you should have seen the public in the stadium. When did it end, at half past 1:00? It was full, overcrowded. There was just a handful of people who left earlier.

As far as I'm concerned, night sessions in the stadium are definitely appropriate, because it was always full to the brim every night. There was the match between Musetti and Tsitsipas where people left earlier indeed during the week.

As for the other matches, they were not that long. There was a lot of people. There was a real enthusiasm, because they could work during the day. People could actually work during the day and yet watch the match during the evening. So that's like some fresh air for them in the evening, sometimes it's actually late. And as for last night, I thought it was crazy.

Maybe I was not objective. I don't know.

Q. There are those who are in front of their screens and they say, Okay, I'm working tomorrow, you know, and it's no good for me. We're not talking only about the crowd.

AMELIE MAURESMO: But you were also talking about the crowd, the public attending the match.

As for the TV audience, I do not have enough hindsight, but the feedback that I got said that it's great, because people are working during the day, and they can watch during the weekends normally but during weekdays they do not have access to the matches. And having matches during night sessions is actually a great thing.

I'm not trying to defend these night sessions, we are not at the debriefing session yet. We are midtournament, a bit more than midtournament right now, but there is an interest in having these night sessions, may it be for the crowd attending the match on-site or for those who want to watch the match in front of their TV.

That's the feedback that I got.

Q. Shouldn't we start earlier as it happens for the Australian Open to avoid having overlapping schedules?

AMELIE MAURESMO: The option we could have, and we could think about, it's noon, maybe we could start at 11:00. Maybe it could be better. For the moment, we will see how things go today because it will be the last night session.

We have had an overlapping that was a bit tricky over the night sessions. Yesterday everything was fine, but there was one day, I can't remember, where we -- when was it? It was Alcaraz, it was the day before yesterday, there was actually 20 minutes' delay with the walk on court.

So out of nine matches, once there was actually kind of a problem of overlapping, but that's a matter of figures and statistics. We will see afterwards.

But things turned out pretty well.

Q. Another question on night session. There was one match with the lady players. Was it a regret for you?

AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, no. This is what we wanted to showcase to spectators who had only one-match tickets, because some of them do. It was more difficult to have, of course, a match, a night-session match with only female tennis players.

Q. You're saying, as you have said, this is your first year, how did you manage to make the decision to have a night or day session? I know it was pretty tense, but there was a lot of pressure from various sources. How did you get this great idea? It seems that it's hard for you to make that decision, isn't it?

AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, it was hard. Everybody saw it coming. There was no miracle solution, unfortunately. All the other schedules were pretty easy to determine.

As for this one, there was more leeway. There were a lot of discussions going. There were a lot of pressures, a lot of issues. Everybody was actually waiting for the decision to come.

We weighed everything in, and, you know, I'm learning along the way. Some said that I took the best solution; some said that I took the worst decision. We are more in the gray than in a black-or-white situation. I don't know if it answers your question, but we did what we could.

Q. How difficult is it to actually not abide by the will of a player who's won 13 times the Roland Garros tournament?

AMELIE MAURESMO: I'm in contact with Costa. Yes.

Q. (Off microphone.)

AMELIE MAURESMO: Yes, of course.

Q. (Off microphone.)

AMELIE MAURESMO: No. Well, we talk to each other. That's the stance that I took from early on. May it be for positive or negative circumstances, we have to understand and take on what's going on.

Rafa has shown us how big a champion he is far and beyond all these considerations.

Q. The incumbent broadcaster has had some harsh words on the tournament. Do you intend to talk with her about this?

AMELIE MAURESMO: I wanted to have a meeting with her yesterday. We had a meeting yesterday in the afternoon at 2:30, 3:00. She had her interview before we actually had the meeting. But as I said early on, communication is essential. I have no problem whatsoever in seeing her to have a discussion.

I do not speak to people via the press. It's always a face-to-face, one-on-one meeting. We said everything we had to say. Of course French telly had things to say, and I totally understand. We did talk at length. We could understand each other's points of view, the reasons, and the ins and outs of why she spoke in this way.

Not everything is true in what she said, I have to say. I had to explain why we had to make this choice.

I will not say more about this, because these things are to be solved on a face-to-face situation. That's the way I operate. I have no problem whatsoever, even if she was angry, you know, we have to talk to each other and say, Okay, let's talk. You're not happy. Why? Okay. I understand.

And after three-quarters of an hour, things are more quiet. I can understand that they are not happy with this choice but we should actually make sure that this relationship with French telly, because it's an incumbent partner, we should actually make sure that this relationship is a peaceful one, as much as we can, of course. We do not want to make things awful between us. That's not the objective at all.

Q. There were a lot of people in the crowd who were very happy, but then they complained because they couldn't come back home. They had to pay the heavy price for a taxi or transportation mode to come back home. Shouldn't we organize things now about this?

AMELIE MAURESMO: That's actually a key issue that needs to be settled, and that will be one of our priorities in the future. We haven't planned anything yet, but obviously we need to organize ourselves differently with the Department of Transport of Paris with bus systems, with the underground system. If we continue with these night sessions in this direction, people need to leave the stadium late enough and make sure that they have a way to come back home, as they should.

We do not have the means to organize this for 15,000 people yet. For the moment, there is nothing.

Q. Just to get back to what you were saying with Delphine Ernotte, what do you think about her sentence saying there is a breach in terms of equality between the public, broadcasting services, and Amazon?

AMELIE MAURESMO: A breach, is that what you are saying?

Q. Yes, because not everyone has access to Amazon Prime.

AMELIE MAURESMO: Through the decision that we have made, the common decision that was made with Amazon Prime, we have tried to reduce that difference as much as possible.

As for us, the tournament organizers, and the Federation, this is absolutely crucial. Of course this is something I understand. I'm hearing this. It's still quite true in a way, probably not as much as what she's expressed, but I hear these words and I understand.

But, you know, it was part of what I was saying earlier. You know, it was not black and white. It was gray. We tried to move forward together, and the fact that it was free last night was part of that.

And so we tried to handle that match as best as possible. Maybe that match shouldn't have taken place in the quarterfinals. No one would have imagined that a few years ago when these media rights and broadcasting rights were signed, as it's joint, it's a partnership.

But, you know, this debate probably wouldn't have taken place if this match had not taken place in the quarterfinals. You know, everything would have gone smoothly, and we wouldn't have had that debate, I think.

Q. Despite this all, this accessibility that was talked about and that you put in place, is it something that will happen only once or maybe is it possible to imagine that for a French player next year in the quarterfinals?

AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, you know, it was just for last night, for now, and I'm really glad that this could take place. To be honest with you, we only talked about that match, because it was this very match that really triggered a lot of attention, and we'll see for the future.

Q. Concerning the tournament and the game, someone suggested that in the case of Rafa Nadal maybe we shouldn't stick to the ranking, not to have these matches early on in the tournament. And second question, with your technical qualities as a player, would you have liked to have play in these conditions, night conditions with the heavy bounce and the high bounce?

AMELIE MAURESMO: Concerning your first question, Wimbledon has done it for several years. It creates, as far as I'm concerned, something that's not really fair, I would say.

So I think we should stick to -- we have always said that the rankings, in order to be seeded in the tournament, is what counts and what matters, and I totally agree with this 100%.

Then, concerning the night sessions on clay, you know, I enjoyed playing these, but it's true that on clay I haven't played any. So it's quite complicated for me to answer that question.

But you know that high of bounce probably would have been an advantage for me as a player. But, you know, on hard courts, I enjoyed the night sessions.

Q. (Off microphone.)

AMELIE MAURESMO: Maybe I finished a bit late in Rome, but, you know, that's something I can't really remember. It's possible, maybe.

Q. Well, the tournament is not over yet, but since it has started in your new job, what do you enjoy most?

AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, you know, scheduling and scheduling.

Q. (Off microphone.)

AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, that's what takes a lot of time, and it's absolutely normal. There are other things, you know, if you take stock a little bit from an operational perspective, you know, what's working, what's not working, you know, concerning transport or saying, All right, we've got an issue with this, with the tickets and the intercessions.

There are many things that are interesting and we're actually organizing two meetings a day to tackle these topics.

I find it really interesting, what really fascinates me is scheduling, and it's true that it's been quite tough. But, you know, that's how one learns.

Q. So for the first time, we are going to see wheelchair tennis on center court. What can you tell us about this?

AMELIE MAURESMO: Exactly. Well, this is something that we really wanted to promote this year, and it's true that we had these free slots on center court Friday and Saturday at 11:00. And, you know, we made that choice in a very natural fashion, and we decided to promote wheelchair tennis in the best possible way. So there will be a final on Saturday, and on Friday might be a semifinal.

We'll see how our French players do in the tournament, in the draw.

And I think it's quite interesting, you know, with the view to the Olympics and Paralympics that will come very quickly, and, you know, comparing ourselves to the English-speaking countries, we are trying to schedule these matches on big stadiums.

Q. So last night's match was incredible in terms of game level. What do you think?

AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, you know, I will never stop being surprised at their level. These are very special matches between these two. And the way Rafa got out there and the way he started off the match was absolutely incredible.

Novak's reaction, you know, when he was 3-Love down in the second set, and then Rafa, you know, had a hard time probably physically, and then Novak got back to the baseline and started hitting the ball as hard as he could. But in terms of tennis, it was incredible.

Also tactically and mentally they know that it's going to be tough, that it's going to be tough physically, tactically between the two. So as anyone, I was really impressed by what happened last night.

Q. There are six players left. A quarter of them are Russian. If one of them wins, during the ceremony, will there be something different than for the other years?

AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, as we had said earlier, just before starting the tournament, we stick to our neutral stance, and that will be the case for the ceremonies, you know, with no flag, no National Anthem. That's what we are going to stick to.

(Questions in English.)

Q. Your first year in this role. Obviously there is going to be a debrief at the end of the tournament, et cetera, but initially, is there anything that has stood out to you that you maybe would consider adjusting or changing? You have obviously heard Rafa making the point that he doesn't like the night matches on clay, and I'm sure the night matches are going to stay. Would you start them earlier, as an example?

AMELIE MAURESMO: That's what I was saying. I'm not going to be able right now to give you an answer to this, because we are going to have to debrief, as you said, and see all the parameters that we are gonna have, you know, the numbers, also, and see what we want to do in the future.

But this is going to happen probably a week after the end of the tournament. We already plan to meet all together and see where we want to bring the tournament, what we want to do, and what was working well, what wasn't working as well.

So, yes, night sessions will stay, but obviously we are going to see whether we move the starting time or not. It's a lot of things that we have to take into consideration, for sure.

Q. You have done pretty much everything there is to do in tennis now, from player to coach to tournament director of a major. What, when you look back, would have been the toughest aspect and the most enjoyable across the board?

AMELIE MAURESMO: Wow, I don't know. It's all so different, I feel. You have difficult things in every job that you mentioned. You have enjoyable things in all of them.

I'm sorry, my inspiration is not really high right now. But no, maybe being a player gives you -- you control everything you do 100%, in a way, which in every other role that I have been in is not the case.

So for someone like me with my character, maybe that's what I prefer (smiling).

Q. I know a similar question was asked in French, but one women's night-session match out of ten. I know you said you have no regrets about that scheduling, but when that session is billed as the match of the day, are you comfortable with the message that sends about women's tennis?

AMELIE MAURESMO: In this era that we are in right now, I don't feel -- and as a woman, former woman's player, I don't feel bad or unfair saying that right now you have more attraction, more attractivity -- can you say that? Appeal? That's the general, for the men's matches.

My goal was when I was doing the schedule every day to try and see, and from the first rounds, from the first round, when the draw came out, to try and see what match in the woman's draw can I put there, honestly. The confrontation or the star that I could put there. You know, you have all those parameters.

So that was tough. Honestly, I did really consider every day -- not every day. That would be wrong. But most of the days, trying to see, and all the team, we were really focusing on this most of the time.

But yes, I admit it was tough. It was tough for more than one night to find, as you say, the match of the day. When you have this -- it's an interesting one, because as I was saying, the fact that it's right now a one-match night session is tough on this. It is tough.

Q. In a similar vein, 18 out of the 20 matches scheduled first on Lenglen and Chatrier this fortnight, which is traditionally the slot that gets the weakest crowd and TV audience, 18 of 20 have been women's matches. Is that something you would look to change?


Q. Is that something you would potentially change in the future?

AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, I didn't know the number. To be honest, it's day by day more than -- but it's a good point. Yes, in the future, that would probably, knowing that number now, which I didn't pay attention to, to be honest, during these 10 days, is something to take into consideration, for sure.

Q. My question is regarding mental health issue. Because I heard that you brought the mixed zone and no media access to players lounge to protect mental health for players. How important is that issue for you? And also, I was wondering, what happened to Naomi what she has done last year here made you think about concern about that issue?

AMELIE MAURESMO: So just to -- the mixed zone, you talked about mixed zone at the beginning?

Q. Yes, mixed zone instead of press conference.

AMELIE MAURESMO: Oh, yeah, okay, after the matches.

Q. Yeah, mixed zone for --

AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, the goal -- I mean, everyone, as you all can see and can see in sports in general, in tennis also in particular, the mental health is a topic that is really coming out right now, that the athletes are talking more and more about.

It was something that we want to take into consideration. The goal was really to, in the players' areas, to give some space for the players where we wanted to make sure that they have their intimacy or privacy or that they are not going to be, you know -- that when they can prepare the matches, that's the area we talked about, we thought about, where they can prepare the matches in the best possible way and the most quiet, possible way.

So, yeah, in the players' area, there is an area that is not accessible to the media, for example.

And then, yes, after the matches, I think maybe it was the case last night also for the night matches? No? Not last night maybe. Most of the nights I think it was mixed zone also for players, you know, to also go to bed earlier -- I mean, as early as possible, let's say. Also, maybe, so for some players they have less requests, you know, to not put them in front of maybe just one or two or two or three journalists so that they can make it a bit more fluid, in a way.

What else was...

Q. What happened to Naomi, like what she has done last year, what do you think...

AMELIE MAURESMO: Well, yeah, because of what happened last year and the fact that she started to talk about feeling bad and everything, it was also, yes, a reaction to what happened to Naomi and making sure that, you know, we would be able to adapt, in fact. That was what we wanted.

And this year, again, I think it happened with Paula Badosa, she felt some problems, we adapted, no press conference. She just made some quotes and everything.

So the goal is not to put anyone on a bad position if there is a mental, kind of fragile mental problem or state.

Q. My question is also about Naomi and just what happened last year. A lot of people were critical of the FFT at that time for being too harsh in its statement after Naomi skipped press, too severe in its penalties and its language it used. How do you look back at that moment one year later?

AMELIE MAURESMO: To be honest, I don't remember -- I wasn't involved at the time, so I honestly don't remember the words or the press release that the tournament made.

Q. They said it would be a major penalty and she could be banned from tournaments, basically just for skipping press conference. Obviously this year there has been a lot of focus on mental health and relaxation and things. It was a very harsh sort of adversarial response initially last year.

AMELIE MAURESMO: So do you want me to comment on what happened a year ago?

Q. Yeah, if you can. I'm guessing you were paying some attention to it.

AMELIE MAURESMO: I just said, I mean, we treated these things and these mental health issues very differently this year, because there is also all this experience behind the tournament.

Yeah, that's what it is.

Q. What was your contact with Naomi like this year? She said you spoke to her before the tournament. How important was it for you to sort of mend that bridge?

AMELIE MAURESMO: It was important for me. I think it was also important for her and to show her that, you know, it's different, and we all have learned in one year.

And to just tell her that if she needs anything, basically that was to welcome her and tell her if she needs anything and do not hesitate and just feel free to really reach out.

Q. You talk about mental health, but when you don't allow journalists, just a handful of journalists into the player lounge, why do you allow the TV companies to have cameras in the corridors, they watch the players come on the court, off the court, round here, there, but they can't get away from the cameras, they have been complaining, some of them, that they have nowhere to get away from TV cameras, which has nothing to do with us?

AMELIE MAURESMO: Are you talking about the Netflix cameras?

Q. No.


Q. No, just the general TV feed that we look at, you can see the players everywhere. You see them as they are trying to warm up, as they are trying to prepare their mind before they go on court.

AMELIE MAURESMO: They have requests on these specific topic the day before. The requests are made by the televisions. I don't know. We want to follow Rafa. They list the names and the players they would like to actually have images from.

It's being asked to the players, whether they agree or not. And then if you see the image of a player warming up, it's because it was allowed. You know what I mean?

Q. Yes.

AMELIE MAURESMO: It's because that player allowed the camera to film them. That's how it works. Just to let you know how it works.

And there are a lot of them say no, and it's fine. Then they are not followed or filmed or whatever, because sometimes it's a fixed camera. Sometimes it's also someone with a camera, I agree.

That's how it works. That's how it's been working since the beginning, to my knowledge. But if you are telling me that some players are complaining about it, I will definitely look into this. But that's, just to be clear and transparent, that's how it works.

Q. Okay. Could I just pick up too on the mixed zone idea, as well? The mixed zone happens after the night session, but as you have said, it is the match of the day. Your biggest players, it's the sexiest match that you have.


Q. And then the only access we have is in the mixed zone which, when it's a big player, it's a...


Q. Yeah, the first time Novak was in there, it was chaos.

AMELIE MAURESMO: Okay. Well, we are trying things this year, so definitely the feedback is important, and I really hear what you are saying. We are, for sure, going to debrief all of this after the tournament.

You know, as you say, if it's, for example, Novak and it's too much of a mess, we have seen this year that it's, depending on who is there and the name of the player, it's a mess, then we would, for sure, adapt for the future.

The things are not written in stone. I feel that we are trying things also this year. We are new to the night sessions with crowds, as well, and how to treat the players' recovery after the night sessions' matches, as well.

So everything might not be perfect from the first time, but definitely some things will need adjustment, and probably that's one of them.

Just to let you know, we are pretty open about these feedbacks, for sure.

Q. On this sort of topic, women only getting one night-session match, do you think the players see the night session as a privilege to be in the match of the day, as it's advertised, or is it sort of a burden to have to be the last match? Do players seem remotely excited about getting to play at night, in your experience?

AMELIE MAURESMO: I think you can see both. I think some of them like to play in the evening, and some of them hate it. Some of them feel that it's privilege, and others think, Oh, I just want to get out there at 11:00, 12:00, I know when I'm going to start, my day is over after this and I want to do something else.

I think I'm sure you pretty much have all the different thoughts on this. I mean, when I was playing, it was really like that.

Q. Just to bother you one more time...

AMELIE MAURESMO: You are not bothering me.

Q. As an ex-player, do you find current players easier to deal with than you thought or worse to deal with than you thought?

AMELIE MAURESMO: No, I'm not surprised. Well, I know them a lot. I retired quite a long time ago now, but I have been coaching -- I was still a coach two years ago, so I pretty much know how it works and how the players are. I still know all of them, so no surprise there (smiling).

Q. You used the term "mental fragility," moments that players have after tough losses...

AMELIE MAURESMO: No, no. Not after losses. Sometimes it's a period that when you are more fragile, it can last one day, weeks, months. Yeah.

Q. Do you think it's tougher for players now in this current era, or was the fragility always there --

AMELIE MAURESMO: It's possible...

Q. -- and just sort of ignored before?

AMELIE MAURESMO: I think the fragility, there was always some moments of fragility. That's my opinion on this. I think it's maybe more, I don't know, acute or visible now, because I feel the players are more exposed.

That's my view. I think the social media, I think they are probably, I don't know, but some of them are probably reading everything. I think it can be really harsh, really, really tough. So to protect yourself from this is something that is not, I think not easy right now for some players, some young players, as well.

Yeah, I think that makes it more difficult maybe now these days. Yeah.

Merci. Thank you.

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