How did you first become involved with tennis and did you go on to play professionally?
I started playing tennis when I was 4 years old while my parents were going to the country club on the weekends and I fell in love with the sport at first sight. I was a very shy and insecure kid and the court was the only place where I felt good, strong and powerful. Tennis became my obsession and I was spending my whole weekend on a tennis court.
I became one of the best junior players in France and was dreaming about pursuing a professional tennis career but my parents decided that classical studies were a much safer option. My dream, my passion, my whole world broke down that day.
Ten years later, I realised that it was wrong to blame my parents for what happened as they had made that decision thinking it was the best thing for me. I should have convinced them that it was my vocation. I was 26 years old and decided to start a tennis academy in order to give children the chance I did not have to follow my passion.
Did you have any tennis role models, or anyone in the charity sector which you leaned on for inspiration whilst growing up.
My first tennis idol was Yannick Noah for his game style, athleticism and his charisma. Later, Pat Rafter became my favorite player for the same reasons. I was playing serve and volley and I was very much influenced by the top players that were the best in this game style.
More generally speaking, in any field, I always admire people who have a great common sense as I believe that it is quite a rare quality. I also have the biggest respect for people who are not scared to show a difference in who they are or what they think. We live in a world with too much political correctness and uniformity of ideas. I love free people; free of thinking, free of speaking, free of being.
Did you always intend to enter the world of professional coaching, or did this evolve along the way?
Becoming a coach was never a goal for me even though I was passionate about the game and a big admirer of all the tennis players. My objective was to create a system that would be able to produce champions in tennis and in life – because we are also taking care of the schooling side with a lot of success – by giving children the chance to achieve their goals in life.
One day the head coach of my Academy, whom the Academy was then named after, decided to leave and suddenly I was losing my brand. That’s when it became The Mouratoglou Academy and I became a coach so it could have the necessary credibility.
Why do you think players, such as Serena Williams, experience so much success when coached by you? Who else have you coached?
I have coached several players before Serena; Dimitrov, Baghdatis, Pavlyuchenkova, Rezaï and Chardy. We live in a small world where we all know each other. As a coach, you are wanted if you have had success and I believe that it is a great thing because, at the end of the day, we are hired to help our player become better than he or she has ever been. Serena came to me because I had been successful with my other players and she probably thought that I could help her come back to winning.
When we started to work together, she was at the lowest point in her career – 30 years old, number 5 in the world, had just lost in the 1st round of Roland Garros and hadn’t won a Grand Slam title for 2 years.I prepared a plan to help her regain her dominance and we’ve been lucky that it worked much better than we could have expected.
Do you apply the same coaching principles or ethos with all of your players? And can you tell us a bit about your principles?
That is a very good question.I know that some coaches have a method that they apply to every player, but I do not believe in that. I think that coaching is the best job on the planet for two reasons. Firstly because it consists of helping people achieve their goals and reaching their dreams which is simply beautiful. Secondly, because it is a very challenging job that requires a lot of creativity.
My method requires creating every time I work with a new player THE method that will achieve the best results for him or her. Everyone is different; has a different personality, a different game, different needs. As a coach, I always start from scratch,and my first goal is to understand the person and the player, and find in them the triggers to make them go to the next level.
If my job was to apply the same method every time with every player, I believe it would be boring and ineffective.
The rest of this interview will be published at a later time.