“With the We Are Tennis Fan Academy, we prove to the players that we are there”

Claude, you were one of the creators of the mood of the week for the great return of the We Are Tennis Fan Academy to the stands of Roland-Garros. Evan Fournier showed you the way the day before. Tell us about your experience …
Yes, it is true. Evan had started the first day. We will be several during this fortnight to come and bring atmosphere to this Central. It was really cool because we couldn’t all get together for a long time. They have spent two years with Covid. It was the first time we returned to Roland-Garros without restrictions and it is a pleasure to see people back in the hallways, without masks, and to be with a whole hot team to bring atmosphere to this Central. It was very nice, I really had a great evening. Everyone played the game, it was really cool. I was well received by everyone, be it the BNP Paribas staff, the organizers, the group of supporters or the rest of the people invited to give their voice as well. We had a great time together.

For you, who like tennis, should it be a pleasure to be able to set fire to the stands of a tennis stadium, where the atmosphere is generally rather calm, if not non-existent?
Yes, but in any case, any sporting event must have an audience and people who support athletes. In tennis it is quite stereotyped, there is no need to make noise when the exchanges start and you do not enter the stadium to sit when the match is underway. But it is precisely between every point that we have to comfort the players and show them that we are there and that we support them. Especially in tennis, we are not used to having groups of fans raising their voices and using the bass drum to make noise (laughs).

In the midst of the blow of the fans, you almost gave the impression of having done this all your life …
I love it when people give it their all and are euphoric about it. A French player (Corentin Moutet) played against his Christmas idol, it was the first time he played against him and, in addition, at Central, he wanted to give a voice to encourage him. When you see people by your side giving it their all, it also makes you want to give it your all. I felt like I belonged (laughs), and I really liked it.

Are you a regular at Roland Garros?
Since my exposure allowed me to come more often, yes, of course (laughs). I’ve been coming for four years in a row. For me, it always makes me happy, wherever I am in the gallery, it is always a pleasure to immerse myself in this great tournament that is Roland-Garros. I really like tennis. I played it when I was young. I have a good time every time.

“Christmas remains The Monster”

Did you play at a good level?
No, because it was a sport that wasn’t really open to my parents’ finances. He had taken a few lessons with the school of discoveries. I liked it, I played on the weekends. In general, I got stuck in the stadium, there were several fields and we always found the trick of having a track to exchange balls with friends. And when it was closed, we played against the wall (river). I didn’t continue because, in terms of all the sports I did, I quickly wanted to discover another one. But it’s a sport I like. I handle the racket pretty well, I like this game, I play, but not on an exceptional level. Anyway, at least I didn’t go down without explaining myself first.

Do you have a favorite player?
No. I, on the other hand, was an admirer of the waiters-volleyball players, whom we see less and less. I really liked Stefan Edberg. Today, inevitably, we must respect Christmas, which is still “The Monster.” He is the specialist, hard to find in the mud, even when he is crippled. Whether you have a sore arm, shoulder, or foot, it’s still complicated. This year I would bet on him. Then, to see if physically, he arrives still fresh to face the big pieces like Zverev, Djoko, who won last year and is still one of the favorites. I would still put Djoko, Nadal and Zverev among my favorites.

You don’t see Carlos Alcaraz winning. Do you still find him too young?
It is true that it is the growing value and what everyone expects, but I think it will be difficult to dislodge the two great champions, especially in such a long tournament. At the moment he is still too young for me.

What place does sport play in your life?
It has an important place in my daily life. Maybe even more today than before. When you’re younger, it’s more of a time to share with your friends. Today, it becomes a necessity to pose challenges and challenges. I’ve always played sports and tried different sports to find out the most. Today, inevitably, I’m more into running than team sports. I play less tennis, indoor soccer too, because they are a bit complicated sports for the ankles and not necessarily compatible with running. Injuries can occur very quickly. I discovered paddle tennis recently, I didn’t know it, I also found it fun and enjoyable. I’m always on the lookout to try a new sport. Anyway, at least I didn’t go down without explaining myself first.

Are you also a sports loser who can suggest Koh Lanta?
No, frankly, I’m not a bad loser. You’re referring to two or three pictures you may have seen of me during my last Koh Lanta, but that’s not even it. It’s the frustration of not giving your best and missing out. But no, I’m not a bad loser. On the contrary. I can recognize when the person is better than me. If I moan, it’s up to me, not the other. I love to win, of course, but I won’t get mad at the other for winning. I will complain more that I am missing out on my abilities right now.

“I’ve already done Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro. Next year I’ll face Matterhorn”

Over the years, you have set the bar even higher when it comes to sporting challenges. Is it because of the desire to push your limits more and more?
Inevitably, over the years, you lose speed. I’ll be 10km from Paris on June 5th, but I’m not going to look for a personal mark because it’s the road, I don’t have distance training and I have less speed than before. Today the trail has come to me naturally, because it is a nature race, where the adventure is more about the road than the road. In addition, there is a real strategic dimension on the way to get closer to the twelve, fifteen or sixteen hours you will spend in nature with all that imponderables can bring. Nature is not something you control, with bad weather, climate change … Trail running is what suits me best. So far I have tried myself in 80 and 100 miles, but I want to try longer distances to find out other things. Then there are the peaks … This year I have a pretty intense program and I hope that the minor injuries I have had recently will leave me alone.

Did you enjoy the Marathon des Sables?
It was really a chiff, I didn’t experience any pain. However, he had not run since February. Like, the body has memory. I did what I did before, all in a very good atmosphere. It’s an adventure that will stay in my memory for a long time and turned out to be less difficult than I had thought. Although it was not obvious.

You also plan to tackle the highest peaks in the world …
Yes, I’ve done Mont-Blanc and Kilimanjaro before, so why not try a 7,000 or 8,000 meter? Next year I will bet on the Matterhorn (4,478 m above sea level). It stays in French and Italian territory, so it’s not far away. It is very alpine with a very high peak. Everyone refers to Mont Blanc, because it is historic, it is the highest peak in Europe and it is legendary, but around it there are many peaks equal to a few hundred meters, but with other difficulties and another beauty, and the Matterhorn is one of them.

Do you still find time to spend time with your loved ones and work on that schedule?
Yes, I am still working (he is a master driver) but I am lucky to have free time. Then, of course, I try to be present with my wife and children and organize everything well. If it were up to me, I would be doing things all the time, but I already do a lot of them. And it is also good to be able to rest with the family.

“Very glad Kylian stayed”

Does this mean that we will see each other less often at the Parc dels Princes to come and support your favorite team: PSG?
I will come to the Park whenever I can come (laughs). The day I move, it can be a little trickier, but today I still have a lot of fun going to the Park to support the team. I am also very happy that Kylian (Mbappé) stayed. I think he stayed because he was attracted to what he needed: to regain this Champions League and mark the history of this club. People will obviously say that the economic aspect came into play, but I think their real goal was to mark the club with that first cup with big ears (sic) to return. I hope you can achieve your dream.

Are you close to a PSG player?
No, not at all, but I have my nephew who just signed for Toulouse. His name is Enzo Faty. It is her first professional pre-contract since she was 14 and she is returning to Clairefontaine as an under-16 aspirant. His brother (Mickaël Faty) is older (25 years old) and plays in Cherbourg. Playing a day in Paris? I wish Enzo well. He is a beautiful number 9, a very good player!

The world’s first tennis fan school, We Are Tennis Fan Academy, founded in 2015 by BNP Paribas and run by John McEnroe, returns to Roland-Garros this year after a two-year absence due to the pandemic . of Covid-19. With the aim of infusing new energy into the heart of the stands, making the public more passionate, enthusiastic and united, this academy invites more than 500 fans during the fortnight, responsible for hosting ten night sessions of the tournament. But that’s not all: to add to the intoxication of the moment, several personalities known for their ability to set will join the fans in question and share these evening sessions. After Evan Fournier, promoted to first arranger for one night, which had premiered the week on Monday, it was then the turn of Claude Dartois of Koh Lanta (Wednesday) to cheer on the band. They will be followed by LeKemar (Saturday), Cartman (Sunday), Chloé Jouannet (Monday 30 May), Nino Arial and Jérôme Niel (Tuesday 31 May) and finally Estelle Denis on Wednesday 1 June. In addition, a set of ten DJs with international influence will join the party every evening taking their place on the turntables to set fire to the central court before the players arrive.

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