Let’s go for a walk in the woods, for a WTA tournament. Eight years after the last edition of the Open GDF Suez, the world of tennis finds in the capital a 100% women’s meeting, organized by Lagardère Paris Racing and listed WTA 125. With as headliners, the Estonian Kaia Kanepi, the Polish Magda Linette, and of course the French women, in particular Kristina Mladenovic and Diane Parry. All in a magnificent setting, La Croix Catelan, in the heart of the Bois de Boulogne.
“It simply came to our notice then. A women’s tournament in Paris, just before Roland Garros, it’s hard to say it’s not a good idea, says the director of this Lagardère Trophy, Stéphanie Cohen-Aloro. I’m super happy, it’s very hot. To top it all off, the weather looks good. Ideal to enjoy the joys of the mud and prepare for the French Open.
A smell of Roland
The Lagardère Paris Racing club, which has no more and no less than 45 tracks, has been busy for months to accommodate some of the best players on the planet. “Having experienced the circuit, it’s rare that there are such beautiful places,” said Cohen-Aloro, winner of the Fed Cup in 2003. And the athletes responded to the call: “We’re lucky to have a very dense lineup. , with girls. between 54 and 130 in the world, he welcomes Stephanie Cohen-Aloro. 90% of them play the final Roland-Garros draw, some will go to Strasbourg next week, others will stay to train in Paris. A few months ago, a lot of people said to me, “Obviously, it’s in my diary!” The tournament is in an ideal location. »
Ideal also in terms of weather. The Lagardère Trophy is held just before qualifying for the French Open, which begins on Monday 16 May. There will be the Czech Linda Fruhvirtová, eighth finalist in Miami, where she beat Elise Mertens, then took advantage of the abandonment of Victoria Azarenka, whom she led 6-2 and 3-0. Like Chloé Paquet, Fiona Ferro and Esla Jacquemot, who won Roland-Garros as a junior in 2020, with the ambition of shaking off the 1967 track of Françoise-Dürr, winner of Roland-Garros.
“We wanted to take advantage of this beautiful window to gather a quality field, because it offers players conditions of play similar to Roland-Garros in terms of balls and fields. There is a real meaning, “insists Benjamin Boulanger, Deputy General Manager of Racing. There is a smell of Porte d’Auteuil, located just three kilometers away, which necessarily gives the ambition to settle in “We want to anchor ourselves in the international calendar and, in the long run, consider all the perspectives inherent in this type of event, perhaps by asking the question of men,” he said. The yellow ball is good, but seeing better is better, and that’s part of the roadmap.
Ecology, workshops and Parmentier
In addition to the tournament, there will be a conference on abuse of authority and the role of parents in sport, tennis ecology and health workshops, as well as an introduction to wheelchair tennis. “This tournament is part of a club’s life, so we wanted to take that approach and take action to raise awareness,” explains Benjamin Boulanger. In this perspective, Racing has worked especially with Dr. Bernard Montalvan, who has been working with the FFT for three decades.
The organization will also host a hundred young people every day from disadvantaged neighborhoods, such as La Courneuve or Tremblay. “They will spend the day with us, live an introduction to tennis and attend matches. Making them spend a day in a magical place, giving them a chance to come to tennis, that’s important to us. We also worked with Ali Oubaali in the 16th district council to establish a similar approach with the schools. Through sport, there are many beautiful things to discover. “
But also to offer, as the tournament is associated with the Imagine Foundation to raise funds for the treatment of childhood cancer. “We want to use this tournament to convey values that seem important to us,” insists Stephanie Cohen-Aloro. The director of the tournament will be able to count on the former 40th in the world Pauline Parmentier, the benchmark of wheelchair tennis Stéphane Houdet or the double winner of the Davis Cup Cédric Pioline to liven up the week. “We didn’t have any problems convincing them, it’s the tennis family,” he smiles. They will help us make this first edition a great success, we all want it to work ”.