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“Having a colony of supporters is just incredible! »

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For the second time in his life at Roland-Garros, basketball player Evan Fournier had the honor of hosting the first evening session of the We Are Tennis Fan Academy, a fan academy created by BNP Paribas in 2015, which is celebrating its great return to the stands of the Porte d’Auteuil after two years of absence. The French back of the Knicks returns for us on this experience and on what the supporters represent for him. The French international, silver medalist with the Blues in Tokyo, also talks about the looming Euro and looks back on his team’s missed season in the NBA.

Evan Fournier, you had the privilege on Monday evening of inaugurating the great return of the evening sessions of the We Are Tennis Fan Academy as the first ambiancer of the week. How did you live this experience?
At first, the supporters made me a little uncomfortable chanting my name (laughs…). More seriously, they are full of good humor and it’s really cool to see people back in the stands! In France, we lack a bit of fervor, it’s nice to see people so invested. When you are on the pitch, the more energy there is in a stadium, the more it pushes you to perform. You do sports for that: to experience great moments and experience beautiful emotions.

Especially since tennis is a fairly sanitized sport. So it’s only better to have a group of supporters who liven up the stadium?
That’s it ! Especially since tennis is super interesting on the mental aspect, as long as the other hasn’t scored his match point, you can always win. In that, it is different from many other sports. To have an academy of supporters like the We Are Tennis Fan Academy that animates the match until the last point, it’s just incredible. Being among them in the stands was a great experience.

Especially since for this first session, you had the pleasure of attending the match of world number 1 Novak Djokovic (against the Japanese Nishioka). What does this player inspire in you?
He’s my favorite player. I started watching tennis with my grandfather when I was little, he was a big Federer fan. But when Djokovic arrived on the circuit, I immediately liked his Serbian mentality… He’s a fighter, a warrior. As a sportsman it speaks to me, I like this type of whole player who has character. I don’t know him personally, I’ve never met him either, but when you see him on TV, you feel that he has a desire and a determination. He is a great pro who deserves a lot of respect.

Have you ever been to Roland-Garros?
This is the second time I come. I came when I was 14. At the time, it was the women’s final with the Russian Sharapova. I was there for a meeting with some basketball agents. I stayed ten minutes, it’s not a very great memory.

Are you a big tennis fan?
I like. After that, it’s hard to follow. Like everyone else, I follow the Grand Slam tournaments from afar. And like everyone else, when there’s a big game, I sit in front of the TV and enjoy the show.

“Olympiakos have the best fans in Europe”

WATFA always there for Jo ✊ pic.twitter.com/dC1i4whTxa

— We Are Tennis France (@WeAreTennisFR) May 24, 2022

What do you particularly like about this sport?
I really like the psychological aspect of tennis. The fact that it’s never over and that you still have a chance as long as you haven’t lost. It’s a one-on-one sport, but without physical contact. It’s really very mental.

Monday evening, you took your place in the hearts of the supporters. Do fan memories come to mind instinctively?
Yes, I remember a match in Lille in 2015 with the France team, for the Euro in France. The football stadium had been moved into a basketball hall. The atmosphere was really exceptional and to see the whole room in blue, white and red was brilliant.

Are NBA fans special supporters?
It all depends on the team they support. Today I play in New York. New York fans are known to be very tough and it’s growing very hard. Personally, it’s an audience that I adore because they are knowledgeable and it’s an audience loyal to their team. If you play well, they encourage you and if, on the contrary, you play badly, they will let you know. They are fair in their judgement, I think.

Are there rooms where you prefer to play and, conversely, where you dread going?
I love playing in New York, I also love playing in San Francisco where Golden State plays. I don’t really like going to rooms where there is a little less atmosphere. And that depends on the current form of the franchise.

You said recently that if you were to return to Europe, it would be at Olympiakos. Mainly for the public?
Yes, that’s clearly why. I was at the Euroleague Final Four in Belgrade recently. They were 12,000 in the room. Their team lost in the semi-finals and they still animated the stands in the final. This is what makes me say that this club is a mythical club and that it has the best supporters in Europe.

“New York is even better than I imagined! »

Have supporters ever managed to destabilize you?
No, never, honestly. I’ve never been someone who pays attention to that. I have always been focused on my performance. Afterwards, they sometimes have an impact because it pushes so hard in the room that you don’t hear your teammates talking to you. And that, it’s true that it can destabilize a little because you’re not on the same wavelength. Afterwards, there was never any real intimidation concerning me.

This season, with New York, you had started very strong, without managing to qualify. Is this absence in play-in a huge disappointment in your eyes?
Yes, of course, it’s a big disappointment. Now it is behind us. We will have to make the right choices this summer on free agency, that we sign players and that we improve, above all. Because I remain convinced that we can do something very strong with this team. We’ll see how the summer goes.

You dreamed of living and playing in New York. Has life lived up to your expectations?
Yes, life in New York is truly exceptional! It’s even better than I imagined, to be honest. I would really like to play there as long as possible.

You found yourself in the role of shooter at the end of the line, not at all easy to grasp for you who like to have the ball. Are you still satisfied with your season from a personal point of view?
I am not disappointed. It took me a long time to really understand how to play in the best way with what was entrusted to me. And once I found the rhythm, I had a really interesting part of the season. In the end, it turned out pretty well for me. Plus, I managed to break a few records on the way, so that was cool. I will have to continue to progress in the role given to me. I do not regret at all having put my suitcases in New York. It’s part of the sporting challenge, not everything can always go as you want. We will have to be persistent and keep working.

Do you feel like you’ve become an even more complete player, with an even different profile from the one you had before coming to New York?
Yes exactly. It’s really about having done something that I haven’t done before and discovering something new. Inevitably, it allowed me to improve as a player because it brings something new to my game. Afterwards, in the France team, I will have a different role. I will have to do the transfer hoping that it will be effective. I have no doubt on the subject, this new role should even help me for this summer because I have become more complete as a player.

“Looking forward to seeing us again to lift a trophy”

You are a new player, are you also a mentally stronger player than before?
I don’t know if I have passed a course mentally. It’s hard to really quantify. I can only say that new challenges presented themselves to me and that I had to find a solution to respond. I would say it was a new experience and you necessarily learn from any new experience.

This summer indeed, the Euro is waiting for you. The Blues must now compose without Nando De Colo and Nicolas Batum. Do you still feel that this team is armed to do great things?
Yes of course. We have a squad with a lot of quality and very talented players, so we have all the weapons in hand to be able to put on a very big competition. I am quite confident in our group and we will try to continue to progress together.

Is the disappointment of Tokyo digested?
(Close) Yes, of course. It was a year ago, it’s behind.

Once again, you missed out on the title at these Games. The Euro will be an opportunity for you to finally get on the top step. This must be close to your heart, perhaps even more than ever?
Yes, that’s it, that’s the goal. The defeat against the United States in the final of the Games motivated us all and we are all looking forward to seeing each other again so that we can finally lift a trophy together.

Victor Wembanyama, the polishing diamond of the new generation, could be there. What does its emergence inspire in you?
I haven’t actually seen him play, I’ve only seen highlights on the internet, so it’s hard to answer that question. But I think he will be called up this summer. I don’t know if he will be in the final group but I think we will have the opportunity to see him and rub shoulders with him. We’ll see what comes of it.

The first school for tennis fans in the world, the We Are Tennis Fan Academy, founded in 2015 by BNP Paribas and directed by John McEnroe, is making a comeback this year at Roland-Garros after a two-year absence due to the pandemic. of Covid-19. Aiming to breathe new energy into the heart of the stands by making the public more passionate, enthusiastic and united, this academy invites more than 500 fans during the fortnight, responsible for hosting ten evening sessions of the tournament. But that’s not all: to add to the intoxication of the moment, various personalities known for their ability to set the mood will join the fans in question and share these night sessions. Evan Fournier, promoted to first ambiancer for one evening, kicked off the week on Monday. Will follow Claude Dartois from Koh Lanta (Wednesday), LeKemar (Saturday), Cartman (Sunday), Chloé Jouannet (Monday May 30), Nino Arial and Jérôme Niel (Tuesday May 31) and, finally, Estelle Denis, Wednesday June 1. In addition, a set of ten DJs with international influence will join the party every evening by taking their places on the turntables to set fire to the center court before the players arrive.



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