Photo: Srdjan Stevanovic/Starsportphoto ©
“A NATURAL APPRECIATION FOR MONTRÉAL,” says Eugène Lapierre.
On the eve of the Games, the official list of players in the women’s Olympic tennis draw has just been released, and a quick comparison of the fields in Tokyo and Montréal gives the National Bank Open the gold medal for its ability to attract the global elite.
From August 7 to 15, 18 members of the Top 20, including the supreme trio of Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka and Aryna Sabalenka, will compete at IGA Stadium, while only 15 players in the Top 20 are waiting in the wings at Ariake Tennis Park.
Among the absentees in Montréal are No.10 Simona Halep (injured) and No.16 Serena Williams. However, No.4 Sofia Kenin, No.5 Bianca Andreescu, No.14 Victoria Azarenka, former No.1 and current No.21 Angelique Kerber and No.25 Coco Gauff have all confirmed their presence.
OLYMPICS: AN ASSET TO TENNIS
Who better than Eugène Lapierre, tournament director in Montréal, to provide some insight?
“We have to conclude that the pandemic edition of the Olympics doesn’t do justice to the event, in which all athletes should be proud to compete. Several factors make the Games less attractive to the best in women’s tennis,” affirmed Eugène Lapierre.
There are indeed more drawbacks than incentives. He mentions a few examples.
– A detour through Asia between the European and North American swings.
– The lack of ranking points and prize money.
– The anticipated strict confinement that will prevent athletes from going out and seeing the city.
– The restrictions on spending time with athletes from other countries and other sports or attending competitions.
– The fear of contracting the virus in a country that is experiencing a significant fourth wave.
“All things considered, having 15 of the top 20 women isn’t so bad. But let’s hope for 100% participation in Paris in 2024, because the Olympics will always be a tremendous opportunity to showcase our sport on the world stage,” said Lapierre.
SHOW OF APPRECIATION
On the topic of Montréal, Eugène Lapierre sees the players’ participation as a show of appreciation.
“It really highlights the fact that the WTA players have a natural appreciation for Montréal. Having 18 of the Top 20 at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers is a vivid demonstration of that. Every healthy player plans to compete at IGA Stadium in a few weeks.”
According to the tournament director, players know how much Montrealers love them—with the attendance records to prove it—and they love us back.
MARQUE DE GRATITUDE
Mais au sujet de Montréal, Eugène Lapierre voit une belle marque de reconnaissance de la part des joueuses.
« Tout ça met quand même en lumière l’appréciation naturelle des joueuses de la WTA envers le tournoi de Montréal… et l’inscription de 18 des 20 meilleures du monde à l’Omnium Banque Nationale présenté par Rogers en est une éclatante démonstration. Toutes les joueuses en santé prévoient de venir jouer au Stade IGA dans quelques semaines. »
« Elles se savent appréciées des amateurs de Montréal, records d’assistance à l’appui, et elles nous le rendent bien », termine monsieur Lapierre.
Coverage of the opening ceremony, which remains one of the most popular Olympic events, kicks off on CBC and Radio-Canada on Friday at 6:30 a.m. ET, with a primetime show at 7 p.m. ET. The national broadcaster promises more than 3 775 hours of live content across its platforms.
The tennis balls get rolling on Saturday.
We’ll all be cheering for Leylah Annie Fernandez and Félix Auger-Aliassime in singles and Gabriela Dabrowski and Sharon Fichman in doubles!