Meet Marc Maury, the voice of Roland-Garros

 - Alex Sharp

Broadcaster has been the master of ceremonies on Court Philippe-Chatrier since 2004

Marc Maury, Roland-Garros 2022© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

You might not know what Marc Maury looks like, but there's a very strong chance you know what his voice, in equal measure smooth yet resonant, sounds like.

"Deux mille cinq, deux mille six, deux mille sept, deux mille huit…" the Roland-Garros master of ceremonies' iconic roll call of Rafael Nadal's Paris titles rings out around Court Philippe-Chatrier during the Spaniard's warm-up.

The facts and figures reach a crescendo, before ending with a booming "from Spain, Raaaaaaafaeeeeel Nadal!"

And the crowd love it, joining in to raise the volume even further.

"[By the time] it comes to '2008' [deux mille huit], I've already been drowned out, it's electric, the tickling behind the ear," the Frenchman told rolandgarros.com.

"I remember in 2020, Sebastian Korda was playing him in the fourth round and he told me, 'I don’t know French, but I understood the years very quickly. I was so nervous, I knew I was immediately under pressure.'"

"Honey every morning" is the secret to protecting these precious vocal cords, and it's done its job well as the 65-year-old has been introducing the world's best on to the Parisian terre battue since 2004. He also announces the match winners, conducts the draw formalities and provides the voice of the trophy ceremonies. Maury is an integral part of the Roland-Garros experience.

Marc Maury, Rafael Nadal, quarter-final, Rolex Paris Masters 2019© Philippe Montigny/FFT

A happy accident

Back in the 1980s and into the 1990s, Maury says he lived "many lives" as an elite decathlete, a rugby player, a PE teacher, a model, an actor... his CV is something to behold.

"I said I want to do everything and the coach recommended decathlon. This is a perfect summary of my life. This is what I like, to go from one event to another," he said. "I'm a privileged person, as I continue to work in sport, which I love."

And it was his days as a decathlete that opened the door to more than 30 years as an announcer.

"The first time I ever held the microphone was in the 80s. I was doing the national championships in decathlon and I got injured in the 100m, which is the first event, so I wanted to leave," explained Maury.

"The national coach said 'no, no, no, you're staying', because I was a big mouth. 'You'll take the microphone and you'll explain to the public what decathlon is about, what is happening on the track.'"

Antoine Dupont, Amelie Mauresmo, Gilles Moretton, Marc Maury, Draw, Roland-Garros 2023© Jean-Charles Caslot/FFT

That gig was just the start and Maury soon found himself commentating and hosting at a multitude of elite events. It would soon be time to decide whether he could make a living from his media roles.

"I had to choose, around the same time the [current] president of the French Tennis Federation [FFT], Gilles Moretton, was sometimes watching track and field, and he was running the ATP event Grand Prix de Lyon. He said can we do something in tennis?"

A new role

The timing was perfect as the ATP had just allowed tennis tournament organisers more freedom to create their own on-court presentations.

"We were exchanging faxes, it was another age, the stone one, with no internet, no mobiles. After a few months, we had sorted a plan for on-court presentations, the exact set-up, which is now used everywhere in the world," Maury continued. 

"The first time there was a special presentation for players, with a microphone and music, was Indian Wells in the States in 1994, then the second time was with us in Lyon.

"I asked Gilles, 'What can we do that doesn't disturb the players and their game?' He said the best is working out something before the players enter until they start the match. That includes the warm-up. Then, after match point, then you can sort an on-court interview. That wasn't allowed before 1994 either, there was only the press conference."

Roger Federer, David Goffin, Marc Maury, fourth round, Roland-Garros 2012© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Maury continued to work on these ceremonies on the French tennis circuit at events including Bercy (Rolex Paris Masters), Marseille, Toulouse and Monte-Carlo until the FFT came calling.

His role at Roland-Garros has coincided with Nadal's mind-boggling 14 titles on the terre battue.

"After his first title, (2005) I came on court, he looked at me and said 'I don’t speak English.'

"I said 'we'll do it in my Spanish, my school Spanish, so you have to help me.' We did that for five years and he got more and more confident.

"He's such a simple and normal guy. He's never changed. Rafa knows almost everyone here, he comes and says hi to each of them. When he wins he comes to hug everyone.

"I'm very proud we have him and have worked with him. In fifty years' time we'll talk about these moments. I'm not sure we'll see someone doing that, as those 'Big Three' were, eating everything, almost. They didn't leave much of the cake for the rest. But it's been a privilege."

Serena Williams, Marc Maury, third round, Roland-Garros 2013© Philippe Montigny/FFT

A privileged position

Maury has one of the best seats in the house, witnessing the stars of the show from close quarters, just before they head out to battle.

"You can feel when they arrive what mood they're in. That's sport, you take the 100m final in the Olympics, you look in their eyes, one by one, and you can see who is in the right mood," Maury said.

"It's the same on Court Philippe-Chatrier, when they’re about to walk out the door. When I got Roger [Federer], or Rafa, major players like Novak Djokovic too, they are so sure of what they're doing.

"I've seen players worried to enter this arena too. This is a very special moment to share.

"There have been so many memories but my favourite was when Rafa first won, seeing the tears in his eyes, Roger in 2009, when he cried, you remember it all your life."

Rafael Nadal, Marc Maury, quarter final, BNP Paribas Masters 2013© Eric Della Torre/FFT