Former French tennis player and head of the Roland-Garros tennis tournament Guy Forget addresses a press conference before the inauguration ceremony of the contemporary greenhouses of Auteuil and the new Simonne Mathieu tennis court at Roland-Garros in Pa
"I think looking back, it was a very courageous move," Forget said of the decision to rearrange Roland-Garros.
"Because as I told our president at that time, I said, 'Bernard (Giudicelli) if we do that that way, of course, we're going to get criticised because we don't know what's going to happen. They're going to think it's a very selfish move. Maybe we can talk to them about it'.
'We had to save Roland Garros at any cost' - Guy Forget joins Mats Wilander and Justine Henin
"But at the time, our president, his responsibility is to save Roland-Garros, to save the tournament at any cost at all. So our goal was to say, 'OK, we have to save Roland-Garros because otherwise our federation is struggling, otherwise amateur tennis is going to suffer big time. So where could we possibly have Roland-Garros without hurting any Grand Slam, without hurting the Davis Cup, without hurting any Masters 1000? Where could we possibly place Roland-Garros?'
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"And that time in autumn, as late as possible, was the time we thought that was going to be the less hurtful for everyone. But when you are running a Grand Slam event, I mean, there are the pillars of the game. You know, Wimbledon, Roland-Garros, the US Open and the Australian Open, are what people follow no matter what."
The trio also discussed how the tennis landscape would be affected by the elongated break, with Forget and Henin agreeing that experience would prove crucial to post-pandemic success.
Asked by Wilander whether the whole year would be cancelled, Forget insisted was that it was to soon to say.
“I'm pretty confident some tournaments will happen before Roland-Garros and I think that's for the good of the game and the good of the players,” began Forget.
“When the Tour starts again, I think the players with more experience will still be on top. When you're a younger player, you need to put those four, five hours a day and to get some of the rhythm matches.
“I think that Roger Federer, Nadal or Djokovic with little less practice, they can rely on their experience and they can still be there on the big moments.
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“I think they've been so good last year and the first part of the season. Novak has been unbelievable. Roger is just playing - when he's fit - I mean, his best tennis and Rafa, he seems like he's a junior walking out on every court anywhere in the world like, you know, he's so happy to be here.”
It will likely be the same on the women’s side of the draw, expects Henin.
“Serena [could benefit from the extended break]. It's getting harder and harder but maybe it's an opportunity for her to take a good break and to recover because from the time she became a mum, you know, she didn't really have a good recovery and she started to play quite soon after that. So, running after the title and playing a few finals of Grand Slams, so it could be an opportunity for her [when tennis returns].
“I would say from last year the women's tennis has become again more interesting,” added Henin.
“I was a bit concerned in the past but we saw different styles coming back on the Tour with Ashleigh Barty, with [Bianca] Andreescu, but I think it's going to be very open, it's not the same situation as on the men's tour for sure.”