HomePickleball NewsEmbracing Change: Pickleball Takes Center Stage in France

Embracing Change: Pickleball Takes Center Stage in France

Pickleball Takes Center Stage in France: Last week, the renowned red clay court at Roland Garros, the esteemed venue for the Grand Slam event French Open, underwent a striking transformation. The French Tennis Federation (FFT) in collaboration with Amélie Mauresmo orchestrated the conversion of this revered court into three temporary pickleball courts. This innovative initiative stands as a remarkable stride in the FFT’s endeavor to wholeheartedly embrace and advocate for racket-adjacent sports such as pickleball and padel throughout France.

A New Perspective on Racket Sports

In contrast to concerns surrounding the potential diversion of athletes and audiences from tennis to emerging sports like pickleball or paddle, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) harbors a distinctive viewpoint. Rather than viewing these sports as adversaries, the FFT extends a warm embrace, officially integrating pickleball into their purview and pursuing governmental approval to orchestrate a sanctioned national championship. Mauresmo conveyed her optimism regarding this inclusive approach, stating, “I’m not sure it’s the same crowd that are doing these different sports. And if you put it in a tennis club, that means people might come to play pickleball, but then they see tennis and it can maybe attract new people.”

On-Court Demonstration

Preceding the women’s semifinals of the French Open, featuring Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff, Mauresmo and FFT president Gilles Moretton engaged in a casual pickleball session on Court 5. This intimate arena, with a capacity of 263 spectators, nestled amidst the enchanting backdrop of tall pines and the prominent Court Philippe Chatrier, offered a picturesque setting. Reflecting on her maiden experience with pickleball, Mauresmo shared, “I didn’t really know what to expect. I haven’t watched pickleball on TV. You can have fun quite quickly in this sport. The rules are just a little bit different, so you have to adjust, but it doesn’t take very long to do that.”

Promoting Health and Enjoyment

Enthusiastic fans were encouraged to partake in pickleball as part of a promotional endeavor akin to the FFT’s previous campaign for paddle two years ago. Paddle, having been integrated into the federation a decade prior, has witnessed a steady surge in popularity. Moretton accentuated the health benefits and accessibility of these sports, asserting, “We want people to come and enjoy and do exercise for health. Tennis is a difficult sport, and sometimes you need to enjoy and learn something quickly — and padel or pickleball is much easier for most people.” Diverging from Mauresmo’s perspective, Moretton possessed prior exposure to pickleball. “You have to get used to the rules — I didn’t know all the rules at the beginning — but then it’s much easier than tennis,” he noted.

Pickleball Takes Center Stage in France (1)

Future for Pickleball in France

Presently, France boasts approximately 300 pickleball courts in comparison to 34,000 tennis courts. Nonetheless, Moretton anticipates rapid expansion, paralleling the trend in the United States where numerous tennis and basketball courts are being repurposed for pickleball. With unwavering support and encouragement from the FFT, pickleball is set to carve out a significant niche within France’s sporting landscape, presenting a delightful, accessible, and healthful alternative to conventional racket sports.

News in Brief : Pickleball Takes Center Stage in France

Pickleball gains spotlight at Roland Garros as French Tennis Federation embraces the sport, converting a court into three pickleball courts. FFT aims for governmental approval for a national championship. Mauresmo and Moretton engage in pickleball session, promoting health benefits and accessibility. With 300 pickleball courts in France, FFT anticipates rapid growth, mirroring trends in the United States.

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