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Henri Leconte NYC & US Open

Ants

 

Today we look behind the scenes of one of the most prestigious tournaments. The last Grand Slam tournament of the season is like an anthill, everywhere a lot of people, whether on stage, backstage or in the other places. There's a lot going on like on the streets of New York. Security men are on the move, anywhere. If you go backstage to the toilet they ask you to who your ID/badge and the bag gets searched. The USA takes safety very serious, especially at an event with so many people .

 

Many people work behind the scenes. It is the area that is reserved for the players and the media. It is the group of people who deliver towels and drinks to the locker rooms, cleaning services , referees, ball boys and girls ... Amazing how many pallets of water and energy drinks are brought every hour.

 

People think that the area behind the scenes is huge. However, this is not true at all. The place for the players, coaches, escorts and Press/ Media is really too small. The Players Lounge, the room for the players, is far too small, especially when it rains like today. 

 

Where, we the journalists, consultants, cameramen eat, that is a joke. Luckily we have a terrace. If the weather is nice, it is okay. And I'm not talking about the food. For 8 days I eat salad like a bunny, it makes me crazy.

 

The players have a relaxing terrace which is large enough. This is the place where we do most of our TV interviews. It is really cozy.

 

Yesterday I was able to see Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, and made an interview with Richard Gasquet after his victory. He was very relaxed, had a good mood and happy to have won in four sets.
Very good!

 

Another unique place is the stringing service. It is located next to the player office, referee office , reservation team.

 

At other Grand Slam tournaments, for example at Roland Garros everything is much better.  But even if everything is much smaller, but you feel at home !

 

So much for today




Henri Leconte NYC & US Open

Frilly Panties

 

Let's talk about fashion. Fashion on the tennis court which has evolved tremendously in recent years.

 

I remember my early days at Roland Garros in the late 70s. It would have been impossible to wear something any other than "White" on the court. I remember really tight shorts for men and tennis dresses for women with small lace panties. At that time this was very sexy :-)

 

Men's shorts were very short in length just as the football players shorts at the time, and the female audience was particularly pleased when Yannick Noah played.

 

They shouted from the stands: "Run Yannick!" And Yannick lifted his shorts even higher to provoke them and also to be able to move more freely. The cut of the pants was actually not the most comfortable. I had the same problems and even had to tighten my belt to fit the shorts. To play tennis in these shorts was not easy, but so was the time and it did not prevent us from playing and winning great matches.

 

The quality of the shirts ... After an exhausting set my shirt was dripping with sweat, and must have weighed around 15 kilos or so :-)

 

80% of the clothing was white. I remember an anecdote at Roland Garros. A Davis Cup match between France and Romania. I think it was in 1978, Ilie Nastase against Francis Jauffret. Francis incidentally holds the record in the French Davis Cup team: 35 appearances between 1964 and 1978!

 

Ilie Nastase appeared in a fancy outfit on the court. Hold on tight ... caution: red shorts, red socks and the icing on the cake was his shirt in the Romanian colors (blue, yellow, red)! I can tell you that caused quite a big outcry.

 

Today really everything has changed for men in terms of outfit. The outfitters have made enormous progress with regard to fabrics, cut and style. And it's true that certain outfits are unacceptable, such as the currently trendy neon. Some playerscould work on the highway. You know, like the little plastic figures waving flags in a danger zone or the road workers by night in their reflective vests. So we could play at night without light, who knows, maybe a new concept? :-) I think it's great!

 

Tennis fashion in the 80s was predominantly white, very classic and far less sexy than today. Some wore classic skirts, others wore dresses. With the exception of Chris Evert who always had an incredible classy style. She was wearing a little white blouse, a white skirt and frilly panties underneath that you could see when she was serving! I loved how the television constantly showed the frills!

 

The real change in tennis fashion happened in early 2000. The players began to really dress up on court since a lot of women demanded from their sponsors to produce form-fitting outfits in new high-tech materials.

 

I think it’s great and sexy. The audience loves it, too. So why hiding :-)?

 

A tout à l'heure!

 




Henri Leconte NYC & US Open

The Audience

 

Another day at Flushing Meadows. Same procedure in the morning. A cup of coffee, fitness room and then heading to the stadium.

 

By the way, the match between Gael Monfils and John Isner ended at midnight local time. Gael was defeated in 4 sets.

 

Today, a subject that fascinates me ... The incredible crowd at Flushing Meadows. The audience is so different from any other Grand Slam tournament. A crazy, very enthusiastic audience. I love and hate them at the same time.

 

I'll tell you why ... At the U.S. Open in 1987 I’ve played against Jimmy Connors. We were on centre court. It’s very quiet. I’ve felt enormous pressure and of course the fear to fail, but above all was this applause and enthusiasm for Connors, as ever ... 

 

The player announcement was just crazy. When Connors hit the ball I thought the stands would collapse because of all the shouting and cheering. The first few minutes have been terrible, my legs were shaking. But after a quarter of an hour and a few rallies it was okay. When Connors made a point it was just pure madness, we thought we’re at the Super Bowl! Connors had some problems to communicate with the audience. He was the gladiator and sometimes did very obscene gestures. Well, Jimmy Connors at the U.S. Open. It still is extremely motivating to me that I was there.

 

The U.S. Open crowd is a very open minded one, they love the big show, charismatic characters and the battles on the court.

 

No other Grand Slam is like the U.S. Open. Another memory: during the night sessions there is always a guy who freaks out completely. He is dancing on the gallery, get’s undressed and sings! I love Flushing Meadows!

 

See you 

 

 

 




Henri Leconte NYC & US Open

Torture chamber

 

Like every morning since I arrived in New York I 'm up very early because of the jet lag. To bridge the time, but to also stay in shape, I decided to go to the gym .

 

It reminds me very much of my previous work-out days with a lot of suffering , but also with much joy. I've always trained hard to become stronger and faster, but also for rehabilitation after injuries I was forced to train hard. To strengthen my back after surgery I was training every day, for months. I suffered tremendously and thought it would be over. But I never gave up! 

 

And now I'm back to work out in this training room to get fit and to be even in better shape. I do that to not to look like a sick elephant on antibiotics. Patrice Hagelauer, coach of the French Davis Cup team said that to me in 1991  when I was too slow and immobile on the tennis court. You have to suffer to get to the top and still suffer a lot more to stay there!

 

So if I want to stay fit and want to have fun on the Legends and Champions Tour with my friends, I just have to go to the gym - in the torture chamber. It is difficult, but i have to do it.

 

To my surprise, I met this morning at the gym my friend Sam Sumyk , the French coach of tennis player Victoria Azarenka , No. 2 in the WTA world rankings. His name may seem strange ,he is French and British. I like him.

 

I started my practice and after 30 minutes of treadmill at a speed of 5.5 km/ h uphill (2% ), I increased the slope per minute by 1% to 14% . I can tell you it is very exhausting and I was sweating training and talking with Sam about the games. Then came I did exercises for my back , with stronger weights to become strengthen the back. It works!

 

Finally, under the shower in my room. Now, I write this for you on my iPad and you know what - I feel much better and stronger when i drive now to Flushing Meadows to prepare my Eurosport Show , Avantage Leconte ' with the entire team Torture chamber rules!




Henri Leconte NYC & US Open

Rain

 

Today is a "special" day, it's raining! Disrupts the entire process: all players, TV and of course the audience are concerned. The players waiting in the dressing rooms, the player restaurant or in the treatment rooms.

 

The U.S. Open differ from other tournaments, the tournament is much larger than, for example, Roland Garros. Everyone is looking for a place under an umbrella or roof, the police monitores every movement as is is very crowded.

 

For the players, rain is very annoying, they need to stay focused and not lose too much energy and tension. One must always be ready to play again, in five minutes, three hours or sometimes even the next day. For me as a presenter / consultant the rain is not "easy", because everything is postponed for an indefinite period. The tournament committee changed all game schedules, of course, with consequences for my euro sports show.

 

You spend the time between tournament offices, press room and you seek a covered place, for example, to do the interview with Marion Bartoli. Luckily we found a place and managed to film the the discussion of "the roof of the Arthur Ashe Center Court" between two storms within thirty minutes.

 

But the day was not yet over: up to check the last games of the day and another briefing with euro sports consultant Bertrand billion. We were finished early morning and I came back to my hotel in Manhatten just before the rush hour started.

 

All super stressful, but also very beautiful. I'm still alive, although almost starving ... order room service and then to bed.

 

See you tomorrow!