Pauline Parmentier: The Confessions of an Almost Retired. She almost hung up her racquet in March before finding new wind in her sails and playing with a smile. Interviewed in l’Équipe by @sophiedorgan

My translation of this online piece by Sophie Dorgan in l’Équipe.

Just before arriving at at the National Training Centre in a small car, Pauline Parmentier took the trouble to tex and excuse for being a bit late. When she gets out of her car, she greets everyone with her big smile, then takes the time to talk about her personality and her career.

The good friend

It’s a role I like a lot. I do it naturally. It brings a lot of good feeling with it. It has a good side and a bad side. People tell me from time to that I should be a bit nastier, think more about myself. When the Fed Cup was over, Yan [Yannick Noah, the captain] to be more forward. Thinking of yourself is fine, but it seems bizarre. You need to find a middle ground so you’re not the good friend on the court. But it’s brought me bigger emotions than someone who lives things in their corner.

It’s a bit crazy with highs and lows. Like me: I’m en emotional roller coaster. I can be really emotionally affected and then suddenly burst out laughing, then be vexed all at once. These emotional Alps mean I experience things totally. At Mouilleron [two losses to the Belgians in the Fed Cup quarters], the pressure destroyed me completely, and I told myself I’d never get back up again. And at Aix [two losses but two excellent matches in the semis against Stephens and Keys), I was on the very edge of crying on court because of the crazy atmosphere.

Her level of play

During Fed Cup week, Yan, who puts so much effort and energy into it, told me that is was a monster performance. So, it wasn’t too bad then [laughs]. I need to hear it from someone. When I played against Wozniacki [win by retirement 4-6 6-3 in Istanbul], even if she had the thing with her abdomen, I felt I was stronger than her at bottom at one point. I thought, “It’s weird. Calm down. You’ll burn four matches in a row and you won’t understand it” [laughs].

Retirement

Before Aix, I wasn’t looking too far ahead in my career. There was a little light … but not on every floor [laughs]. When you take it on the chin 6-2, 6-2 against a girl of 16 [Amanda Anisimova] at Indian Wells [first round], I told myself it was a sign. I had the feeling she was showing me the door. I was afraid of reaching the point where I hated tennis. I wasn’t having any fun on the court. In Tunis I chucked my match away [against nr. 329, the Italian Anastasia Grymalska 7-5, 6-0], something I hadn’t done in years. That wasn’t me. I couldn’t retire like that. I wasn’t going to do it with a shitty attitude at a $25 K. I told myself that if I didn’t restart on clay, it was the end. I think it’s the end soon because I don’t want to play until 35. I have other wants in my life. But I want to end well.

What followed

It’s a bit vague once again [laughs], but I know I’ll pick my programme. There are things I don’t want to do. I know that. You can quickly be weighed down by the rankings, the points. You always chase something in this sport, but I’m not setting any goals. Is it my last Roland? No, but it’s possible [laughs]. I’m not telling myself anything, frankly, I just want to take advantage and surf the wave, keep training, groove on it. I keep saying it, but it’s really what the French team staff insisted on for the last 10 days of the meet. The week befor Aix, I dined with Kiki [Kristine Mladenovic], who was one of the only ones who knew I might retire soon. At my last match [against Keys], she followed me [she changed next to her] and told me: “You’re grooving, you’re grooving.” [Trans. note: the French word is ‘kiffer’, which derives from ‘kif’, which means hashish. ‘You’re stoning’ sounds a bit weird, so I settled on ‘grooving’]

The French team

After Tunis, I was in the dumps, but I was looking forward to spending the time with the French team, even if I was agonising a bit because I was affected by the last Fed Cup. I never got to express myself on the court. It was a bad experience. I was burned out, I wasn’t really playing. I got plenty of messages from people who were telling me they felt sorry for me, and that they pitied me. That was nice, but pity, that’s horrible! That’s just the worst reaction to get on the court. No question of experiencing that, not at that point.

The ‘LOL’ to Caroline Garcia[*]

It was at road stop. There were a lot of things that weren’t managed well at that moment, and we [with Alizé Cornet and Kristina Mladenovic], we started on this thing and it was very, very clumsy. If we could do it over again, we wouldn’t. It was dumb. There we were playing for the French team, and everything was about Caro [Garcia], who ended up being treated as the victim. We didn’t find that fair at all.

(*) April 10, 2017, Parmentier, Cornet and Mladenovic reacted to Garcia’s withdrawal from the Fed Cup team by Tweeting out a ‘LOL’.

 

Translated by MAN

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Pauline Parmentier on playing the ITF tour: “Some players ask to live with a host family”

From the print edition of l’Équipe April 7, 2015 page 11. Interview by Sophie Dorgan

“Some ask to live with a host family” Pauline Parmentier explains the differences between the women’s tour, which has less money, and the men’s.

Fallen to 250 in the world November 2013, Pauline Parmentier had to fight on the secondary tour to get back into the well-known top 100. She weighs the differences between the WTA and the ITF secondary tour and shines a light on a very relative parity.

“Everything is very complicated at the small tournaments. We play without ball persons and without line umpires until the semi-finals, sometimes the finals.  There are two shuttles a day to get to the site. If you play at 17.00,  you need to leave at 10. But we shouldn’t complain in France. We’re lucky to have GDF-Suez which sponsors numerous tournaments. A Bulgarian has zero where she lives. You need the drive and the sponsors, because money-wise it’s tough. If you travel outside the country, you lose money playing the $10K’s. Lodging is rarely taken into account. Some players ask to live with a host family to avoid paying for a hotel; others live 3 to a room.

On the secondary circuit, many players have no staff. You open up more to other players, you eat together, it’s nicer. At the big tournaments, everyone’s on their own, eat with their teams and nothing much happens. On the other hand, it’s complicated in terms of programming. We have far fewer tournaments than the men. During a WTA meeting, a player, who is ranked around 130, explained that if you don’t get into the qualies at Indian Wells, there’s zero choice of tournaments for a month and a half. The ATP tries to make sure everyone is playing. The WTA revolves more around top players.”

Translated by MAN