Tennis. Yannick Noah’s shadow hovers over Roland-Garros

Although the Roland-Garros tournament opens its doors, the media now has only one name at the end of its pen and tongue: Yannick Noah. Everyone remembers that thirty-nine years ago, on a sunny Sunday in June 1983, the French tennis player won the Porte d’Auteuil tournament. This desire not to wait for the 40th anniversary date – next year – is in some way indicative of a failure. Well, obviously this return of the hero in front of the stage is not entirely fortuitous. The premiere of a documentary on Prime Video, Noah, the meaning of winning, and a concert tour are definitely for something out there, but that lingering question remains: who will succeed him among the boys? Among girls, the latest hit dates back to 2000 with Mary Pierce.

Images from June 1983 remain in the minds of all who were in the stands of the power plant or glued to their television. An unforgettable sporting moment, such as the 8 seconds between Greg LeMond and Laurent Fignon in 1989, during the last stage of the Tour de France.

Let’s rewind … At the starting point, the return of the Swede Mats Wilander passes over the head of Yannick, who casts an incredulous look to follow the elevated trajectory. The ball goes out. The Frenchman falls to his knees, arms outstretched. After 2 hours and 25 minutes, he knows that Marcel Bernard, the last tricolor to lift this big silver bowl, has just joined the story. It was 1946. More than forty years already! He gets up, quickly greets his opponent, steps on the net and falls into the arms of his father Zacharie, who has come down from the stands. Noah just won the reigning champion (6-2, 7-5, 7-6). It’s euphoria, the announcement of tomorrow singing to the sound of his three-pointed racket Le Coq sportif. “My dream came true quickly. Beyond my expectations, because there are shared emotions, in addition to victory. This love that fell on me was a heavy thing! One day for the ‘ another, you can no longer walk, go to the cinema, to the bakery … ” he remembers. A new era for French tennis seemed to open this time; behind, many “germinated noes” had to take over and grow on the ocher soil of Paris. But that’s all, none of that. At the end of each spring, we can implore the oracles, look for the nugget capable of lifting the trophy, not the slightest new head of town on the horizon.

A heavy load to bear

This heavy thing described by the former player, several generations have carried it as a burden. The suit is too big for its structure: “In a country where tennis is an important sport, with a very powerful federation, which has a Grand Slam tournament and has many resources, a no single victory for forty years is much. That shows that something is wrong. “analyzes tennis player Gilles Simon, and to continue : “This culture of French tennis that speaks of the fact that you have to be a conqueror to win, where you win with class, has never been questioned. There are other ways to do it, just look at those who win Grand Slam tournaments today. »

Last year, as if to confirm his words, the Frenchman had disappeared from the “French” before the start of the third round. Among the men, Richard Gasquet, Gaël Monfils and Enzo Couacaud fell in the second round. Among the women, Fiona Ferro, Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia had not done better. No tricolor in this phase of the tournament, unpublished since 1968 and the beginning of the Open era. This year, the results of the “Frenchies” on clay are not much more encouraging. In Rome, there were none in the final draw. A first in the Italian Master 1000 since 1971.

What will happen during these two weeks in Paris? There will be no Gaël Monfils, the only tricolor who still has the spark, injured. Gilles Simon and Jo Wilfried Tsonga, who benefit from a wildcard, will bow. Generations pass and Yannick Noah’s performance is not over yet. Head of his people in Cameroon – ” I like ! “ -, also continues it in Parisian lands. I’m not sure I appreciate that honor, which just came out …

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