Mary Pierce: India blessed with abundance of talented tennis players

Four-time Grand Slam champion Mary Pierce believes Indian players can excel in singles at the majors.

Mary Pierce

Mary Pierce believes that the game had evolved a lot since her playing days.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

Mary Pierce may have been too good and thus was able to play her best tennis in Grand Slams early in her career, but emphasised that playing one’s best tennis in Grand Slams, was achieved mainly through experience.

"To feel at home in Grand Slams, you need the experience. You keep getting better each time. Everyone feels nervous the first time. To play your best in competition, you need the experience, the hard work and the ability to stay focused," said Mary, who interacted with the junior players and the media, during the Roland Garros junior wild card tennis event at the DLTA Complex on Tuesday.

Expressing happiness about being part of the promotion for clay court tennis, and Roland Garros, 'the Mecca of clay court tennis', Mary said that she could not believe that it was already 20 years since she won the Roland Garros.

"When I won the first match on the centre court, it was an incredible experience. It was my first win on centre court. I had a special feeling inside of me. I told myself, this could be the year for me. I didn’t tell that to anyone. I kept winning match by match, reached the final and my belief came true," recalled Mary, who had to wait for six years to win at the Roland Garros after having lost the final to Arantxa Sanchez in Paris in 1994, when she was 19.

READ | What are the right criteria to pick the tennis GOAT?

Mary, who had won the Australian Open in 1995 beating Sanchez in the final, said that playing on clay developed the young players 'physically, mentally, technically and tactically'. She also observed that the juniors would be inspired and motivated while competing in the same tournament as the top stars of the game, and would learn a lot through the experience, especially by watching the professionals practice.

100

Grand Slam champion Mary Pierce with the Indian juniors during an interaction at the Roland Garros junior wild card tennis event in Delhi on Tuesday. Seated from left: Lucas Dubourg of French Tennis Federation, Mary Pierce, Rohit Rajpal, the Davis Cup team captain, and Sumit Walia, Vice President of Oppo.   -  Kamesh Srinivasan

Conceding that the game needed to be affordable to ensure the wide participation of people in different economic background, Mary said that she was lucky to have had a sponsor from the age of 13.

"We had a sponsor for three years when I was 13. We could live and eat. Train and travel for tournaments. I don’t think I could have made it without that support," said Mary.

She also pointed out that once the players took care of the equipment and court, they could develop by playing even against the wall, as having coaches would require paying for them.

"Playing against the wall is really important. It has been lost with time," she remarked.

Noting that Abhimanyu Vannem Reddy had made it to the Roland Garros event in 2017 through the wild card series, Mary wished that the current lot would work hard to emulate such an achievement.

"I have been to India a few times, and I know that there is talent in abundance in the country," said Mary. She highlighted the impact of players like Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza on world tennis, and expressed her belief that Indian players could make a mark in singles on the Grand Slam stage.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

IPL Special

  Dugout videos