Marie-Amélie Le Fur: "The Olympics at Roland-Garros? It'd be magical"
A three-time Paralympic gold medallist (in the 100m at London 2012 and the long jump and 400m at Rio 2016), Marie-Amelie Le Fur is the co-president of the Paris 2024 bid's Athletes' Committee. She is also a tennis fanatic, so she is naturally thrilled by the prospect of Roland-Garros playing its part at the Games in seven years' time. We caught up with her.
What's your relationship with tennis?
To put it simply, it's the only sport besides athletics that I've ever partaken in relatively regularly. I competed at club level for a year when I was growing up and then I started playing again recreationally at around the age of 20. My husband and I registered at our local club in Pezou, in the Loir-et-Cher department [central France], and we used to go and have fun there at weekends. I had to put my racquet to one side again between 2012 and 2016 due to my involvement at major international events [as well as a triple Olympic champion, Le Fur is also a four-time world champion], because tennis represents a very real injury risk owing to the constant shifting of weight from one foot to the other, but this year I've got more time off and I've started playing again. It's a sport to which I'd like to devote a lot more attention once I retire.
What do you like about the sport?
The social side and companionship. For me, tennis is synonymous with going to the club on Sunday morning and playing a pick-up doubles match with whoever happens to be around, even if we don't know one another. It's really great to get to share spontaneous moments like that with people you've just met. On a different note, myself and my fellow Paris 2024 Athletes' Committee members have organised a few tennis get-togethers and they were so much fun – especially the doubles matches, since you can mix the more accomplished players with the rest to form balanced pairings!
"The Olympic Games in such an iconic place as Roland-Garros, I'd go, that's for sure!"
What does the idea of the Olympic tennis tournaments being staged at Roland-Garros, one of the sport's most historic venues, conjure up for you?
It'd be magical! It'd be truly wonderful to take the Olympic Games to such an iconic place as Roland-Garros and have two of the planet's top events come together. It'd be unmissable – I'd go, that's for sure!
Speaking of which, have you ever been to Roland-Garros?
No, never. It's something I've had my heart set on for a long time, but it's never fit with my schedule. The big athletics events take place in the summer, so Roland-Garros always falls slap-bang in the middle of the home straight in terms of our preparations. It's a slight regret, but I have every intention of making up for it after I call time on my career as an athlete.
Still, do you follow the results from afar?
Very much so. I keep tabs on the results in the big tournaments, the Grand Slams and some of the Masters 1000s, and I follow the action particularly closely when it comes to Roland-Garros. It's the tournament that generates the biggest buzz in France and is a badge of pride for the country. I watch as much of it as I can on television.
Do you have any favourite players?
This isn't a very original answer, but Nadal and Federer are such great ambassadors for the sport worldwide, both because of what outstanding players they are and because of the way they conduct themselves. You can't look past them and, of the two, I'd say that I like Federer the most. He's always interesting to listen to in his interviews: even though the whole exercise often risks being very formulaic, he's always articulate and has a lot to say.