“Writing was my first love, long before tennis”

Known to everyone when she’s in the spotlight at tennis tournaments around the world, Alizé Cornet has an even more exciting passion behind the scenes: writing. At the age of 32, the French champion presented her first novel on May 4, 2022. The waltz of the days (a Flammarion), just over two years after a first book, a kind of autobiographical record book this time, No commitment. She explains this other yard to franceinfo.

franceinfo: Present your book as a “family saga in honor of the women of my life.” What does it mean ?

Alize Cornet: It’s never easy to present a 400-page book that took me more than a year to write, but if I had to make a small summary, I’d say it’s inspired by my mom’s childhood. It happens in the 60’s and 70’s, in the lives of these women of my life, my grandmother, my aunt and my mother. What could have happened in those years, with many twists and turns. And to show how difficult it was for women to emancipate themselves at that time, which they had to face in order to move forward in life. In fact, it is the story of my family, inspired by real events, but, in any case, a very fictitious whole. The basic idea came to me because I have been hearing my mother tell stories about her childhood for years. By force, I wondered if I could get an idea for a novel. Once I decided to start this book, I wasn’t sure where I was going … because it’s not my job to write a novel! I started interviewing him quite seriously with my little notebook, and there I delved a little deeper into the subject. We also had to research a lot about those years, about the glorious 30 years, so as not to make anachronisms … It was a lot of work. I was unable to interview my aunt and grandmother, who died a few years ago. So it was a little instinctive: if my mother was still giving me a lot of details, otherwise it was in my head, it was my imagination. It was delicious. I’m glad people are finally in this story.

Talk about writing: What does writing mean to you?

In fact, writing comes naturally to me. It’s something I’ve always done. And yes, that’s just a little dangerous for me. Once you look like a book like this, you face the gaze of others and the critics, the opinions. But I don’t know why, I had already trusted this book. Especially when I started getting feedback from Flammarion, which was great! It gave me confidence. And then, with my career as a tennis player, I was a little used to the gaze of others and the pressure, and it started to make me neither hot nor cold. And in the end, I still feel a lot more pressure on a tennis court. In short, this book is nothing but happiness. Maybe I have more confidence in my skills as a writer than in my skills as a tennis player. All this confuses me!

When did you find time to write?

In transport, a lot: in planes, especially. I think I wrote half the book on the plane. Sometimes, with my little notebook, I would write as soon as an idea came to me. In fact, I don’t have to let it go. I was scared: I also spent a few sleepless nights with a bit of insomnia. Ideas come to you and you can’t let them pass. I woke up at night, I wrote. Sometimes he would write four or five hours straight. It has become such a hobby that it has preference over everything else. I no longer watched movies, I no longer read books, I just wrote all day. The writing, in fact, dates back so long that in the end I no longer remember it. I think as soon as I could write, I could hold a pen in my hands, I started writing. At the age of three, I even wrote phonetic poems, my mother told me. In fact, reading and writing, words, literature in general, was my first love, long before tennis itself. Finally, I have the feeling of reconnecting with the girl I was.

Wasn’t it too difficult to mix writing and acting on the tennis courts?

I have to be able to separate things well because that’s what cost me the most. It really kept me from sleeping. And we know how important it is to sleep in a career as a player. But then when I managed to make sense of things, on the contrary, it helped me to take a step back. Me, I’ve been a tennis fan for over fifteen years and sometimes a little too much. And suddenly it cleared my head a lot. On the contrary, it was rather a good thing to have taken that distance a bit from tennis. Also, for the record, I made the final corrections a week before my quarterfinals in Australia. So let me tell you – it was a scary place.

Alize Cornet after losing to Danielle Collins in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on January 26, 2022 in Melbourne.  (PAUL CROCK / AFP)

“Probably my last RolandGarros “

A few weeks before Roland-Garros in Paris, what mood are you in?

It’s hard for me to set goals for Roland-Garros. Because I haven’t won many games since the Australian Open. I had trouble finding the milestones I had found in Australia. Maybe a little emotional reaction. I’m not a machine and I think I finally underestimated the effect it would have on me, this success, because it was really a success, this quarter-final in Melbourne. So, bottom line is that I’m really looking forward to having fun with Roland. I will try to take it game by game, to have a good time. And then I want to take advantage of it, it could probably be my last Roland-Garros. I do not know yet. I want to take the opportunity to have my family, my friends on the track and communicate with the audience as much as possible. Then, as for the results, I think I’ll have to let go a little bit. This is what I did in Australia and it worked well for me.

Is this your last year on the circuit?

I don’t close the door to continue a bit next year, maybe to do one more Roland-Garros next year. That way, I don’t have too much pressure to play this year. But it is true that there, two years before the Paris Olympics, it seems to me that it is the end of the world. I had set myself the goal of quitting after the Tokyo 2020 Games. There, I continue for a while because I’m having fun. It was this quarter in Australia, but I’m really getting to the end of something. I’m sorry and I continue for two more years with this discipline, with this rigor, with this life of travel, I am not capable of it. But maybe I’ll take part in the Paris Olympics in a different way. Who knows ?

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