“It’s the first time they’ve given me a microphone,” says Yannick Noah, the last French winner of the tournament.

France has been looking for a successor for 39 years. At the dawn of a new edition of Roland-Garros that begins Monday, May 16 with qualifications, Yannick Noah reviews his career and life after this success. The biggest winner of French tennis, a successful singer, feels lucky. “Why me? Why this opportunity?”

The Frenchman, who turns 62 on May 18 and now lives in Cameroon where he is the head of a village, was in Paris for the release of a documentary about his life that will be available on May 20 on Amazon Prime .

Nearly 40 years later, what do you have left of this victory at Roland-Garros in 1983?
Yannick Noah: It’s my hour of glory, I only won one. And this is the first time I’ve been given a microphone. So you are overwhelmed by this emotion, do not touch the ground and suddenly they say “Put words to this emotion” … I made a simple speech but I thanked everyone and I have not forgotten anyone: the family, my fans, the federation, all my French fans, my Cameroonian fans who had to follow this on the radio.

It’s stupid, because if I had forgotten someone, I would have tried to win a second time, it would have motivated me!

You have experienced emotions, an exchange with your idol Arthur Ashe at the age of 11, the victory at Roland-Garros, the Davis Cup or even your concert at the Stade de France. What is your best memory?
I could say that “that moment was strong for such and such a reason.” But in fact, that’s the whole story … My first personal victory was Roland-Garros, I’m 23 years old. And when I’m a captain (in the Davis Cup), my wish, in my gut, is for my friends to experience that excitement. I want us to win and see their faces. I want to see them cry, it will be my happiness. The first time Joakim (his eldest son) won the college basketball championship in the United States, I was with his mom and he did something amazing. There were 50,000 people, they won, he was a player in the final, MVP, and he went up to the stands to kiss us. If my father hadn’t come down (in the central Roland-Garros court to kiss Yannick after the game against Mats Wilander, ed.), Joakim wouldn’t have given us this gift because it’s something he marked in his childhood.

What else did you have to gain at Roland Garros?
The image that everyone knows, I cry because I say “why me?” I always had this feeling of “why me?” Before each concert, I ask myself “why me? What’s this opportunity?” Rather, I had this relationship with everything that happened to me. I have friends around me who were more talented, smarter people. And suddenly it’s me, and in fact it’s possible.

More talented players around you?
Yes … talent in France is an aesthetic thing. It is much more difficult to highlight a child’s moral qualities, envy, tenacity, endurance, which are part of talent. And I had that. I was athletic for a kid my age but mostly I trained a lot and suddenly developed it, precisely because I wanted this intense motivation to go as far as possible. When I found myself coaching, that’s what I posed for, that’s what I looked at in the players I coached. With the desire to motivate them at this level: to tell them that they had this mental potential to go further. The ultimate test is to do it for your child.

Your father Zacharie was a professional football player, you were a tennis champion and your son Joakim was an NBA (basketball) champion. Is Noah’s DNA special?
We love sports. We love competition. But most of all she’s my mother … She was a fighter, she hated losing. So I was a good student, but I was always the first in the gym, drawing and music. Yet! It was the zero coefficient, but my parents encouraged me, congratulated me, “Okay, you’re the first in the gym! You’re the first in music!” And so it was: I cheered. I don’t think it’s a genetic problem.

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