AN ANNOUNCER’S JOURNEY MEETING WITH MARC MAURY

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The TECNIMAG met Marc Maury, iconic announcer in sport and tennis world. He talked to us about his path to tennis and the image of his job nowadays.

 

Marc Maury Athlétisme

HELLO MARC, CAN YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELF IN A FEW WORDS? IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY, YOU ARE A FORMER HIGH-LEVEL ATHLETE?

Yes, I practiced decathlon at a national level; I was 6th in the French championships. Thanks to that I was substitute on Team France but never had a chance to compete. 

WHAT WAS THE PROCESS TO BECOME A REPORTER? DID YOU STUDY JOURNALISM?

No, I taught myself everything I know. One day, the French team’s coach called me when I was injured and asked me to explain to the crowd the basics of decathlon. They also asked me to talk to a journalist who knew nothing about decathlon so I could explain it to him. After some teaching, it all went really well. After that, I did other interviews like this, mostly during summer because the decathlon’s season is from June to September. Back then, I was only doing it for my enjoyment and never thought it would become my job. 
It went so fast after that. I suddenly found myself on the microphone for many different Track and Field events. From the French Championships to the Worlds, including some major international competitions, I have been on the microphone for many many events. I have been the announcer at every World Championship since 1987. 

In 1993, Gilles told me that the ATP was beginning to allow music, on-court interviews and players’ presentation
Marc Maury
Speaker

HOW DID YOU MADE YOUR WAY TO TENNIS? 

Track and Field allowed me to be introduced to Mr. Gilles Moretton, a former tennis player, and at the time the tournament director at the Grand Prix de Lyon. We worked together on an track and field event. He was passionate by the atmosphere in my sport and he dreamed of doing the same in tennis.
In 1993, Gilles told me that the ATP was beginning to allow music, on-court interviews and players’ presentation. We quickly teamed up again to create a standard format to use at his tournament. In 1994, the Grand Prix de Lyon became the first tournament outside of the US to set this system up. We could do whatever we want till the beginning of the match.


SO IT’S A VERY NEW CONCEPT? 

Yes it is. We have been pioneers on this point. I should have trademarked the format since it is the format used at every tournament today! 

 

Maury


WHAT HAS BEEN THE FOLLOWING STEPS AFTER THIS EXPERIENCE?

During the tournament in Lyon, the organizers of the BNP Paribas Maters came to talk with Gilles and asked him if I could be the speaker for their tournament as well. Then came Mr. Jean-François Caujolle from the Open 13 in Marseille and the tournament director of Monte-Carlo. After the experiences at those four French tournaments, Charles Biétry, who was the sports programs director for Canal+ asked me to join their team. I was already doing some commentaries for Eurosport about track and field, and I accepted the offer and from there, things took off. 


HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN THE ANNOUNCER FOR THE FRENCH OPEN?

I have been at the French Open since 2004. 


BESIDES TENNIS, WHAT OTHERS ACTIVITIES ARE YOU DOING? 

I’m doing all kinds of announcing, from press conferences to event announcing. Each event is very unique.


WE KNOW YOUR VOICE IS EASILY IDENTIFIABLE. DO YOU WORK ON IT?

My first real job was physical education teacher. After that, I wanted a change. Before I quit that job, I took some drama lessons. They gave some tips to change the position and sound of my voice. As an announcer, people must be able to easily understand what you are saying. You must use simple words to describe a complex situation. 

I have about 620 note cards in total
Marc Maury
Speaker

HOW DO YOU REMEMBER EVERYTHING WHILE YOU ARE ANNOUNCING PLAYERS? 

I have a lot of note cards. I have about 620 in total between the men’s and women’s players. For top players, 2 or 3 can be used. For example, I have 3 for Federer. They wanted me to start using a tablet, but it just wasn’t the same.  Paper is still the best way to work in my opinion. Among all those notes, I have “old” and new ones. I have to create new notes almost every tournament to keep things relevant.. For example, here in Monte-Carlo, I updated the Renzo Olivo’s because I didn’t see him for a long time. At each tournament, I make on average 2 or 3 new notes. 


HOW DO YOU MAKE THEM? 

First with basics information: first name, last name, nationality, date of birth, place of birth if there is an interest. Then, I go to things related to tennis: coach, current ranking, highest ranking, year they turned pro. 

 

Fiches Marc Maury

WHEN YOU ARE PRESENTING TOP PLAYERS, FOR EXAMPLE RAFAEL NADAL IS  GOING THROUGH ROUNDS A LOT IN ROLAND-GARROS, YOUR INTRODUCTION IS ALWAYS THE SAME?

No. I try to add something new each year. One year, I highlighted on his ranking, saying that he stayed during 141  weeks at the top of world tennis. The next year, he won 11 tournaments, therefore I choose to highlight this stat. Most  of the time, I first look last year’s results if they were good. If not, I highlight the whole record. For example the 69  titles of Nadal and his 14 Grand Slams titles are here. 


AMONG ALL THE PLAYERS, ARE THERE ANY YOU REALLY LIKE TO INTRODUCE?

I, of course, love introducing the big players. In this job, you love getting the crowd on their feet. So when you introduce guys like Nadal or Federer, of course it is a lot of fun. On the other side, making an introduction on a Monday morning at a 250 level tournament, you have more freedom because there is not a big crowd, but it’s obviously less exciting. Along with the top players, the French ones are also a joy to announce since I am French. 

What we are doing is very small compared to guys like Marc who are doing so much. Fortunately, he is here, and I would like you give him a round of applause!
John McEnroe
Former top player

Après toutes ces années, quels sont tes meilleurs souvenirs ?

Il y’en a tellement... Si je prends par exemple une année avec John McEnroe. On s’était déjà rencontrés à l’époque lors des 10 ans de Canal+ à Lyon. Après coup, nous avions gardé contact. Lors de Roland-Garros, après une interview sur le court, il prend le micro et déclare : “ Nous ce qu’on fait ce n’est pas grand-chose, Marc fait beaucoup de bruit et de choses autour. Heureusement qu’il est là et je vais vous demander de l’applaudir !”. Et se faire ovationner soi-même par le Central c’est pas désagréable (rires).

Une autre fois aussi, en 2012 à Roland-Garros, lors du match entre Goffin et Federer. David était issu des qualifications et avait pris un set à Roger. Du coup je demande après le match à Roger si je peux aussi faire une interview avec David. Roger était ok et m’a demandé de voir si surtout David était ok. Tout s’est bien passe même si David était stressé comme jamais. Il devait annoncer devant tout le monde qu’il avait les posters de Roger dans sa chambre (rires). 
C’est ce côté humain que j’aime retranscrire sur le terrain.


Arrives-tu à créer facilement des liens avec ces joueurs ?

Oui j’essaye au maximum puisqu'il le faut. Je ne peux pas être dans la peau du fan ni dans celle du polémiste. Si j’en arrive à leur poser une question qui blesse, ils m’en voudront à l’avenir et forcément les interviews suivantes seront très difficiles. Ce qu’il faut savoir, c’est que mon rôle n’est aucunement journalistique. Mon but est de mettre en valeur le joueur et connecter le public. Le contenu ne doit pas être négatif. Si à un seul moment je déclenche une question polémique, la réaction du public peut également être négative et donc mettre tout de suite le joueur mal à l’aise. Si le public est dans l’attente d’une question gênante, dans le cas où le joueur fait l’actualité pour de mauvaises raisons, mon but va être d’essayer de désamorcer ça dans la mesure du possible. Si c’est trop difficile, il vaut mieux ne rien faire plutôt que de déclencher une mauvaise réaction du public. 
A la rigueur, là où je peux prendre cette étiquette de journaliste, c’est lorsque je leur demande des informations sur leur style de jeu ou leur façon d’appréhender certains moments du match. Mais on ne va pas plus loin, le but est d’avoir de l'empathie au maximum. Par exemple lorsque j’ai commencé, on était à l’époque Becker, Sampras, Ivanisevic, les joueurs étaient surpris de me voir au début car leur relation avec la presse n’était pas la même. Je me rappelle que Boris (Becker) s’assurait bien que je ne disais pas de bêtises. Il n’hésitait  pas d’ailleurs  à me le faire remarquer. Dans la même lignée, la première fois que j’ai interviewé Ivanisevic, j’ai cru qu’il allait me balancer sa raquette dans la figure, car il n’aimait pas du tout les journalistes. Au fur et à mesure ils ont compris. J’ai la possibilité de leur parler en amont, lorsque je les croise dans les vestiaires. C’est donc aujourd’hui une relation très saine que j’ai avec l’ensemble des joueurs.