"Very proud to be part of the Roland Garros!"

"Very proud to be part of the Roland Garros!"

The Brussels-born Guillaume Woelfle will officiate the Roland Garros as a line judge from May 22 to June 11. A very first for this young 24-year-old journalist and former French resident. Check out the interview below. 

WHAT DOES THIS GRAND SLAM REPRESENT FOR YOU? 

Above being an umpire and line judge, I'm first and foremost a tennis lover - I started playing when I was around 7 or 8 years old. Even back then, for me, the Roland Garros was the biggest and most important tournament. Belgium is similar to France, we both hit the tennis courts a lot. When you're a kid, with your friends, you imagine that you're playing your very own Roland Garros. It's also the most highly-broadcast tournament in Belgium. I'm proud to be able to participate in the tournament from the inside this year and take on these responsibilities. 

Roland Garros Djokovic

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A TENNIS UMPIRE? HOW DID YOU EMBARK ON THIS CAREER PATH? 

I started refereeing around 13 years old. Back then, I lived in France, in Blois. Refereeing training sessions were organized in my club. All the kids my age were more or less forced to participate. But pretty quickly, I started enjoying it. No matter the role - chair umpire or line judge - and no matter the level I was officiating, I always found it intoxicating to have the responsibility to make these potentially important decisions. That's been my motivation, even through today. 

Roland Garros Arbitre Belge

WHAT KIND OF PLAYERS ARE YOU USED TO MANAGING? 

In 10 years, I went from the lowest categories of local tournaments to professional tennis. I am not a chair umpire for players classified above the 150th worldwide spot, but below that point, I can be a chair umpire. And as a line judge, I've been able to participate in a number of unbelievable events, like a final of the Davis Cup, Wimbledon, and the Rome or Monte-Carlo Masters. For me, doing this is a hobby, a passion, and a pleasure. I wasn't expecting to make a career out of it.

Roland Garros Serena Williams

SO THE ROLAND GARROS WILL BE A BIG FIRST FOR YOU. WHAT STEPS DID YOU HAVE TO TAKE TO MAKE IT TO PARIS? 

It's important to work well at the local level as a chair umpire and to do a lot as a line judge at the international level. That is to say, you have to gather enough experience to have a solid enough level of officiating before taking the next step. Once you're ready, you apply, and the selection is based on your experience. Some succeed after just 3 or 4 years of officiating. It took me 11 years. 

Roland Garros Rafael Nadal

WHAT'S BEEN YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY OF THE ROLAND GARROS UNTIL NOW, EITHER AS A REFEREE OR AS A SPECTATOR? 

I would say the most beautiful memories I have of the Roland Garros are those endless five-match sets between two lesser-known players, who are competing in small annexes. They fill up much faster, which creates a simultaneously excited but friendly atmosphere. You can feel the tension of the match much more when it's a small annex and you're close to the court. There are only five matches like that this year, not more. So you have to be a bit lucky, but for me, those are by far the best moments in the tournament. 

WHY, IN YOUR OPINION, DO YOU HAVE TO ATTEND THE ROLAND GARROS AT LEAST ONCE IN YOUR LIFE? 

Because it's a magnificent tournament that impresses all sports fans, including the most discerning connoisseurs! If you're coming to Paris for a few days on vacation, it's worth it to come to the Roland Garros. On the other hand, I'm taking advantage of my time at the Roland Garros to experience the charm of Paris. 

YOU LIVED IN BLOIS AND IN THE LOIR-ET-CHER DEPARTMENT FOR FOUR YEARS. DO YOU MISS FRANCE TODAY? 

Yes, I miss it enormously. I lived in a very beautiful region, the Loire Valley, during the most worry-free years of my youth, when I was between 11 and 15 years old. I only have good memories of my life in Blois, where I've unfortunately only been able to return to twice since I moved out of France. And one of those times, I returned as an international tennis referee. France is my second home, the most beautiful country in the world to me. It has such diversity, whether it be leisure, sports, culture, gastronomy, skiing, or going to the beach. I still have many friends there. 

Loire

HOW MANY MATCHES WILL YOU REFEREE THIS YEAR? 

That's hard to say. All I know is that I work through the middle of the last week of the tournament. As a line judge, I arrive at the tournament site more or less one hour before the start time. It's at that point that I find out my assignments, though we usually get sent to one or two courts that change on a daily basis. Two teams of line judges switch out every 45 minutes, since being a line judge requires a very intense level of effort and concentration. One day can sometimes take 8 or 9 hours with many matches one right after the other! So managing rest time is very important. Of course, during the tournament, I hope to be able to referee on a big court. 

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