More than 40 years later, the Roland-Garros stadium is about to host a boxing match again. This Friday evening, Tony Yoka will play his 11th professional match there, in the heavyweight category. The Frenchman will face Croatian Petar Milas around 10:30 p.m.
READ ALSO. Boxing. Tony Yoka against Petar Milas, an eleventh fight to dream bigger!
The Porte-d’Auteuil site thus reconnects with its glorious past with boxing, while it will host the Olympic tournament for the discipline during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Interview with Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, the general manager of the French Tennis Federation (FFT).
Is it the City of Paris or the FFT which decides to host events other than the French Open tennis in the Roland-Garros Stadium?
It’s a concession, we are the concessionaire. The organizers look to us to suggest events. Sometimes we can suggest some as well. The specificity of this evening’s fight is that it is the organizers of the world of boxing who are piloting this event in detail. But we are at home, so we are the ones who have complete control over the programming of the stadium.
The roof of the Philippe-Chatrier court had been designed for that too?
Absolutely. Typically tonight it was expected to rain. A boxing match could not have taken place on slippery ground. This roof of the Philippe-Chatrier is both what allows us to continue boxing in the court of the greatest on our tennis events, without a bad pun, but also what allows us to secure major events. There was also a concert during the Fête de la Musique on June 21, and luckily we had the roof.
So we’re not just talking about sporting events at Roland Garros …
Absoutely. It can be cultural events, entertainment, gastronomy, fashion… We do not exclude any universe.
“The Suzanne-Lenglen court covered in December 2023”
There is a real history, a real tradition between boxing and Roland-Garros with which he reconnects …
Roland-Garros hosted the European Championships in 1971 and the World Championships in 1973 with the revenge between Jean-Claude Bouttier and Carlos Monzon. There is also the symbolism of Marcel Cerdan who met Edith Piaf at Roland-Garros in 1946. There is a beautiful story with boxing.
READ ALSO. Boxing. These French people who entered the ring at Roland Garros
The Olympic boxing tournament will also be organized on the Suzanne-Lenglen court during the 2024 Olympics …
Exactly. And the two courts will also host sitting volleyball matches during the Paralympic Games.
Where are we in terms of the roof work for the Suzanne-Lenglen?
Work has already started and things are progressing as they should. The idea is that it will be ready in December 2023 and that it will be available in June 2024 for the Roland Garros tournament and therefore the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer. We are also considering the creation of an auditorium in the area of the old museum, it is under study in any case.
Is this a way to offer an alternative to the AccorHotelsArena or Paris La Défense Arena?
We are not trying to be the new AccorHotelsArena or the new Paris La Défense Arena. We do not put this level of pressure and ambition on our shoulders. On the other hand, we absolutely want to say that we have a magnificent setting that is ten times the area of the Stade de France, or 12 hectares. It’s a fabulous asset with these central courts of 15,000 and 10,000 seats, and this should allow us to promote this stadium and welcome the public in many sectors of activity.
Are the clay court experts watching out for it?
When Roland Garros ends, they breathe and are a little more relaxed. The period when you absolutely cannot touch the courts is between the very beginning of April and June.
Is it also a way to save a little more money for the French Tennis Federation with the difficult times that we know?
Yes, somewhere that can be a source of strengthening our economic model and a diversification of our resources. But our first objective is to bring this stadium to life and shine, to make good use of it throughout the year.
READ ALSO. At what time and on which channel to see Tony Yoka’s fight?