Mansour Bahrami

The Legends Trophy (Trophée des Légendes) founded in 1997 by Mansour Bahrami brings together twenty-four of history’s greatest champions, grouped according to age in the two men’s draws, and twelve former women’s tennis stars. The event is a great opportunity to watch some former champions play in a friendly and funny atmosphere.
The Trophée des légendes is the unmissable event of the second week at Roland Garros.

Extract from Roland Garros Magazine’s interview with Mansour Bahrami:

RGM: How did you manage to set up the Trophée des Légendes?

To be honest, I pissed off Patrice Clerc, the director of Roland Garros (1984-2000) for three or four years before he accepted to let me organize the tournament. At the start he would tell me: “But you know that your rubbish old people’s tournament won’t work…” But we were playing all around the world, on a real circuit, the “Senior tour”, which had been created by Jimmy Connors in 1994. We were just sad to be left out of a great party which Roland Garros is. So I insisted and he said: “Mansour, I can’t take it anymore, you’re getting on my nerves… Let’s do this once, and maybe you’ll stop breaking my balls!” It was in 1997, and we’re now celebrating the twentieth edition.

RGM: Did it take time for you to completely rule in Patrice Clerc’s favor?

No, not really. There was this one first year, at the start, where two Spaniards were facing in the central court – but I can’t remember who exactly – and at the same time, we were playing a Trophée des légendes match on the Court 1 where we could host 4000 spectators. But the attendance numbers just sky-rocketed. As there wasn’t any ticket office, people were standing in the stairs, it was mad. There must have been 7000 people, with people standing outside waiting for spectators to leave. Meanwhile, there were only 600 spectators on the central court.

RGM: How do you explain the tournament’s success?

It’s pretty simple: the Trophée des légendes enables parents to take their children to tennis matches, and to tell them: “You see, Nastase, the player I’m talking about all day long, well, that’s him… he may be a little slower and fatter, but it’s really him.” (1)

RGM: What’s the atmosphere like during the tournament? Is it more a bunch of veterans gathering up to have a good time, or is it a competition like any other one?

It depends. Personally, I’m always, and I have always been relaxed. What’s important to me is seeing people walking out of the court with smiles on their faces. Others, like John McEnroe, are there to win it. If he loses, he’s just as sad as if he had lost the final of Roland Garros.

RGM: In the end, isn’t the Trophée des légendes one of the last tournaments where you can watch old school tennis, which can be fun but sometimes violent, with very strong personalities, far from today’s modern, muted and codified tennis?

Sometimes, Nastase would leave a tournament with less money than he had when he arrived: the price of his fines was higher than his earnings! I also remember Rod Laver, who would jump over the net to congratulate his opponent after a beautiful point… Do you think that would happen today? No. Why? Because we played at a time when there was no money at stake. We played for fun, and at the end of the tournament, we would win a pair of shoes… So yes it’s true, in a way, the Trophée des légendes enables this “free” spirit to live on in tennis. Today, you earn 4 million dollars if you win a Grand Slam tournament. The stakes are different.

RGM: Do you have a hard time organizing the Trophée des légendes?

Yeah, especially with John McEnroe (laughs). I’ll give you an exemple. One year, he told me that he wouldn’t be able to play the opening match. Of course, he told me that the day before the match. Well, I changed the whole program for the next day, and at midnight, he called me: “Mansour, I’ve thought about it, there is no way that I can play the second match, I’m playing the first one.” Obviously, it’s his way or no way. I had to spend the whole night phoning the others, on French, Swedish, Ecuadorian numbers… you name it! Just because of John’s stubbornness. I’ve recently told him that he couldn’t do that again. But I know he will…

RGM: Are there any favorites this year?

In the “young” category, the Spaniards who have just joined, like Carlos Moya and Juan Carlos Ferrero, are really good. Michaël Llodra could also surprise a few, for his first participation. In the category of players who are older than 45, Goran Ivanisevic and Sergi Bruguera are both equally impressive. But to be fair, we don’t really care about the level of the players. We invite players who are loved by the crowd. I’ve sometimes had to reject some guys who were unpopular.

(1) Nastase is not a very good example as he stopped playing the Trophée at least 5 years ago.
(2) We get his point but seriously, Borg, Connors and McEnroe among others were not playing for fun or for a pair of shoes. They were already signing big contracts. And today’s players don’t earn 4 million dollars for a Roland Garros victory.

Photo credit: Roland Garros Magazine

Read more:
Costa, Moya, Enqvist and Gaudio: fun under the sun
Past champions seen around the grounds at Roland Garros 2014
Roland Garros 2015: Clijsters and Navratilova pair to win the Legends Trophy

Rafael Nadal at practice, Roland Garros 2016

Roland Garros visitor’s guide:

A trip down memory lane:

1956: First time at Roland Garros for Rod Laver

1960-1969:
Portrait of Manuel Santana, first Spaniard to capture a Grand Slam title in 1961
1967: Françoise Durr defeats Lesley Turner
1969: Rod Laver defeats Ken Rosewall

1970-1979:
Portrait of 6-time Roland Garros champion Bjorn Borg
Portrait of Adriano Panatta, the only player to beat Bjorn Borg at Roland Garros
1978: Virginia Ruzici defeats Mima Jausovec
1978: Bjorn Borg defeats Guillermo Vilas
Roland Garros 1978 in pictures

1980-1989:
1982: At the request of Monsieur Wilander
1982: first Grand Slam for Mats Wilander
1983: Yannick Noah defeats Mats Wilander
1984 French Open: Ivan Lendl defeats John McEnroe
1985 French Open: Chris Evert defeats Martina Navratilova
Roland Garros 1985: Mats Wilander defeats Ivan Lendl
Roland Garros 1988: bold Leconte swept aside by a Mats for all surfaces
Portrait of Natasha Zvereva, 1988 runner-up
Portrait of Arantxa Sanchez, 1989 French Open champion
Portrait of Michael Chang, 1989 French Open champion

1990-1999:
1990 French Open: Opposites attract, Gomez defeats Agassi
Roland Garros 1990: Defending champion Sanchez loses in the first round
Roland Garros 1990: Edberg and Becker lose in the first round
1991 French Open 3RD: Michael Chang defeats Jimmy Connors
1991 French Open final: Jim Courier defeats Andre Agassi
1996: An unflinching Edberg causes a grand upset
Roland Garros 1996: Pete Sampras run through the semi-finals
1997: Going ga-ga over Guga
Steffi Graf – Martina Hingis Roland Garros 1999

2000-2009:
2000: Mary Pierce finds peace and glory
2004: Coria vs Gaudio: the egotist vs the underdog
2005: Rafael Nadal defeats Mariano Puerta
2006: Nadal defeats Federer, wins second Roland Garros title

2010-2016:
A look back at Roland Garros 2011
A look back at Roland Garros 2014
A look back at Roland Garros 2015

Pictures and Recaps:

Fashion and gear:

Polls:

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2017 Australian Open coverage

Enjoy our Australian Open coverage on Tennis Buzz, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

A trip down memory lane:

Australian Open trivia
The tragedy of Daphne Akhurst
The Norman Brookes Challenge Cup
1960 Australian Open: Neale Feaser, a costly volley
1960: first Grand Slam title for Rod Laver
1960-63 Australian Open: Jan Lehane four time runner-up
1974 Australian Open: Jimmy Connors first Grand Slam title
1975: John Newcombe defeats Jimmy Connors
1981: First Australian Open title for Martina Navratilova
1983: Mats Wilander defeats Ivan Lendl
1984: Mats Wilander defeats Kevin Curren
1985: Edberg wins in Australia and Sweden changes look
1987-1988 Swedes spoil the party
1987: Stefan Edberg defeats Pat Cash
January 11, 1988: first day of play at Flinders Park
1988: Mats Wilander defeats Pat Cash
1990: John McEnroe disqualified!
1990: Ivan Lendl’s last Grand Slam title
1991: Monica Seles first Australian Open title
1994: First Australian Open title for Pete Sampras
1995: Mary Pierce defeats Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
1995 QF: Pete Sampras emotional comeback win over Jim Courier
Centre Court floods at the 1995 Australian Open
1995: Andre Agassi defeats Pete Sampras, wins first Australian Open title
1996 Australian Open: Mark Philippoussis defeats Pete Sampras in the 3rd round
Impressions from the 1996 Australian Open: Monica Seles and Boris Becker last Grand Slam titles, Stefan Edberg last appearance in Australia
1997 Australian Open: Pete Sampras defeats Carlos Moya
2001 Australian Open: Pat’s last chance
2001 Australian Open final: Andre Agassi defeats Arnaud Clément
2002: Capriati scripts a stunning sequel in Australia
2003 Australian Open: last Grand Slam title for Agassi
2009 Australian Open: Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer

Recap and preview:
Fashion and gear:
Polls:

Who will be the 2017 Australian Open champion?

  • Serena Williams (35%, 15 Votes)
  • Angelique Kerber (23%, 10 Votes)
  • Garbine Muguruza (12%, 5 Votes)
  • Karolina Pliskova (12%, 5 Votes)
  • Someone else (7%, 3 Votes)
  • Dominika Cibulkova (5%, 2 Votes)
  • Svetlana Kuznetsova (5%, 2 Votes)
  • Agnieszka Radwanska (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Simona Halep (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Johanna Konta (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Carla Suarez Navarro (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 43

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Who will be the 2017 Australian Open champion?

  • Someone else (26%, 29 Votes)
  • Novak Djokovic (25%, 28 Votes)
  • Rafael Nadal (24%, 27 Votes)
  • Andy Murray (16%, 18 Votes)
  • Stan Wawrinka (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Milos Raonic (3%, 3 Votes)
  • Kei Nishikori (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Dominic Thiem (2%, 2 Votes)
  • Tomas Berdych (1%, 1 Votes)
  • Gaël Monfils (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Marin Cilic (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 113

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Andre Agassi, 2006 US Open

From Agassi‘s autobiography Open:

Thirty minutes before the match, I get an anti-inflammatory injection, but it’s different from the cortisone. Less effective. Against my third-round opponent, Benjamin Becker, I’m barely able to remain standing.

I look at the scoreboard. I shake my head. I ask myself over and over, How is it possible that my final opponent is a guy named B. Becker? I told Darren [Cahill] earlier this year that I wanted to go out against somebody I like and respect, or else against somebody I don’t know. And so I get the latter.

Becker takes me out in four sets. I can feel the tape of the finish line snap cleanly across my chest.

US Open officials let me say a few words to the fans in the stands and at home before heading to the locker room. I know exactly what I want to say. I’ve known for years. But is still takes me a few moments to find my voice.

The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard doesn’t say is what it is I have found. Over the last twenty-one years I have found loyalty: You have pulled for me on the court, and also in life. I have found inspiration: You have willed me to succeed, sometimes even in my lowest moments. And I have found generosity: You have given me your shoulders to stand on, to reach for my dreams – dreams I could have never reached without you. Over the last twenty-one years I have found you, and I will take you and the memory of you with me for the rest of my life.

It’s the highest compliment I know how to pay them. I’ve compared them to Gil [Reyes].

In the locker room it’s deathly quiet. I’ve noticed through the years that every locker room is the same when you lose. You walk in the door – which slams open, because you’ve pushed it harder than you needed to – and the guys always scatter from the TV, where they’ve been watching you get your ass kicked. They always pretend they haven’t been watching, haven’t been discussing you. This time, however, they remain gathered around the TV. No one moves. No one pretends. Then, slowly, everyone comes toward me. They clap and whistle, along with trainers and office workers and James the security guard.

Only one man remains apart, refusing to applaud. I see him in the corner of my eye. He’s leaning against a far wall with a blank look on his face and his arms tightly folded. Connors.

I makes me laugh. I can only admire that Connors is who he is, still, that he never changes. We should all be true to ourselves, so consistent. I tell the players: You’ll hear a lot of applause in your life, fellas, but none will mean more to you than that applause – from your peers. I hope each of you hears that at the end.

Thank you all. Goodbye. And take care of each other.

From Jimmy Connors‘ autobiography, the Outsider:

Some of the shots that Borg and I played that day – he with his little wooden racquet and me with my T2000 – were just flat-out crazy. The crowd responded with the kind of passion that showed their appreciation for fierce competitors and great tennis.

The first set went according to plan. I came into net when I could, following up my punishing groundstrokes by taking the ball out of the air whenever possible, not letting Borg settle into a rythm. In the second set, I was hitting the ball so flat to the corners that I missed a few shots, both out wide and into the net, giving Borg a way back into the match, but I refused to let it put me off my game. I was playing to win, continuing to go for my shots.

Sitting back and letting Borg dictate the play – playing it safe like a lot of guys and hoping for the best – wasn’t an option for me. Those missed shots just made me press even harder. Keep playing your game, Jimmy. That’s what you do best. If you lose, OK, you lose, but it happens on your terms.

Going into the third set, I stuck to my game. I kept hitting flat, deep balls to the baseline, not letting Borg build on the momentum of winning the second set. It worked. The match had sapped our energy, and winning the tiebreaker in the third set proved to be the turning point. Fighting to the end is what tennis is all about for me, and with Borg you could take nothing for granted. But I got on top early in the fourth, won the title on my third match point, and added another Grand Slam to my collection.

In December 1975, I was supposedly finished – just a chubby, washed-up, fading superstar with no manager, no coach and no fiancée. By September 1976, I had my fourth Grand Slam, Mom looking after my business, Pancho in the stands, and Miss World to wake up to. Washed-up ain’t so bad.