This year, among the ladies, Léolia Jeanjean represents Stade Toulousain. Before her, Virginie Buisson and Sophie Lefèvre are the last Tricolores of the Stade to have played in the final draw of the Parisian Grand Slam.
One has been in the North for seven years. The other has lived in the United States since 2014. But Virginie Buisson (52) and Sophie Lefèvre (41) have at least four things in common: a passion for tennis, a license at Stade Toulousain, a title of champion of France by 1st division teams in the “red and black” colors (2004) and, above all, several passages in the big leagues of Roland-Garros.
“Most often, I am told about my victory in the 1st round of the 1995 final draw in 4h02′ (6-7, 7-5, 6-2 against her compatriot Noëlle van Lottum; she then lost in the 2nd round, Ed. ). This is still the record for the longest women’s match at Roland-Garros. But I only joined Stade Toulousain the following year”, explains Virginie, tennis teacher at TCM Denain.
In 1996, 1997 and 1998, she returned to the Parisian Grand Slam… But in the qualifications (beaten once in the 2nd round and twice in the 1st round). Subsequently, the former 154th in the world (in 1995) was able to repress the courts of Porte d’Auteuil during the individual French championships (twelve titles in all). “These Grand Slam matches are still good memories. It was an incredible chance to participate,” said the former French N.13, today 3/6.
“This tournament always gives me a special emotion”
For her part, Sophie Lefèvre competed twice in the final table. “I lost in the 1st round in 1999 and in 2003”, confirms the former 216th in the world (in 2003). And for her too, Roland-Garros remains a highlight of her career. “Playing the Grand Slam tournaments was obviously one of my goals. Even being in the United States, this tournament always gives me a particular emotion. If only to think back to the introductory music on France 2 (laughs). For the anecdote, my little niece graduated from Stade Toulousain like Léolia Jeanjean. And the latter continued her studies at an American university, not very far from where I am. The world is small!” , says Sophie, who manages a tennis club in Florida. “I have always had this desire to settle here, while remaining in the tennis world. I have also had dual nationality since 2019”, details the one who also competed in the Porte d’Auteuil qualifications with a elimination in the 1st round in 2000.