Roland-Garros: the Frenchman's absence beyond the third round "must be difficult for tennis fans", sympathizes John McEnroe

Roland-Garros: the Frenchman’s absence beyond the third round “must be difficult for tennis fans”, sympathizes John McEnroe

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Léolia Jeanjean, Diane Parry, Hugo Gaston, Corentin Moutet: these players gave the French hope during the opening rounds of the Roland-Garros tennis tournament. A fleeting hope since the second week of the Grand Slam tournament starts without them, on Monday, May 30. Indeed, as in 2021, no French managed to qualify for the round of 16, when there were five in the third round.

>> Roland Garros: follow the matches on Monday, May 30 in our direct

The next generation seems to be slow in French tennis. Should we despair or can we be optimistic? “It’s always very complicated” make a tennis champion, admits John McEnroe. The retired American champion, a seven-time Grand Slam winner, believes it takes have a larger pool of future champions.”.

franceinfo: When you see the state of French tennis, with one generation receding and another slowly emerging, are you worried about our country?

John McEnroe: You come from a period when there were four guys in the Top 10: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gaël Monfils and Gilles Simon. I thought one of them was going to win some majors, but I don’t think anyone realized how good they were. Right now, I don’t see much to come. I like to watch Hugo Gaston and Corentin Moutet play because they are little ones who play against big ones. They have to try drop shots. It fits my mindset. I think it’s not the easiest time for tennis in France. A few days ago I was with an old friend of mine, you know, the one who won here in 1983, [Yannick Noah]. We have a little bit of that in the United States because it’s been almost twenty years since a male player won. I know that the French love their tennis, they are very passionate. So it must be hard to live with.

Why is it so difficult to create a champion?

It is always very difficult to do that. It is not enough to say: here, let’s bring someone from the island of Mallorca [dont est originaire de Rafael Nadal] while it was a resource when he was playing. In my time, if you played against someone from Switzerland [le pays de Roger Federer], it was a good draw. Clearly, the game is faster than ever. It means you have to be better athletically because things go faster. But at the end of the day, when you reach a certain level, you need a combination of several things. If it was that easy, more people would know how to do it. The key right now is to have more kids playing tennis to have a bigger pool of future champions. It is the same in the United States. We need more tennis programs in schools. In my country right now the best athletes are playing American football and basketball.

You are the director of an academy in New York. Why this personal investment?

I feel like as a kid, I had opportunities that most kids didn’t get to play this sport. I want to create a prosperous tennis environment in New York, because the last player from that city that I remember is my brother. There have been very few players in this city and there are many children from the inner city who cannot afford to play. I’ve been doing this for a long time and my greatest happiness would be if one of the young boys or girls with me wins the US Open, Roland-Garros or Wimbledon. They have given me a lot. So I want to try to give others a chance.

One of the obstacles to being a champion, both in France and in the United States, is precisely money. The BNP Paribas bank to which it is associated, like six other academies in the world, grants scholarships to these young players. Is the financial aspect so important?

Unfortunately if. Ever since I started playing, I noticed very quickly that it was too expensive for most people and it got worse. Therefore, it is even more important than ever to have the support of BNP Paribas and other partners. Without this, it would be very difficult to give these children a chance. A young player must be able to train and travel. In the United States, France and everywhere, financial support is more important than ever.

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