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Umpire Aurélie Tourte opens up on life in the chair on ATP Tour
The ATP's first full-time female umpire is pulling back the curtain on officiating on the men's tennis tour.
Published Oct 03, 2023
Since 2019, Aurélie Tourte has made history every week on the ATP Tour as the first full-time female umpire working the men's circuit. Now, she's pulling back the curtain on what it's like to be a world-class tennis official.
The Frenchwoman, one of just 13 women worldwide who hold a gold badge—the highest certification for tennis umpires—took time to answer fan-submitted questions about the most interesting parts of her job and how she got to where she is in a video posted on the ATP's social media channels Monday.
She also spoke about the career pathway for an umpire, and how success comes via a combination of on-court performance and off-court rules exams. And, perhaps as a surprise to some, drew an obvious parallel to a tennis players' career when discussing challenges she experiences.
"You always want to give your best on every match you do," she said, "so I would say the pressure is difficult.
"We are so lucky to be traveling all over the world, meet different people and visit different countries, but sometimes, we miss home."
But life in the big chair isn't all business, and when prompted for her funniest memory, Tourte recalled a now-famous incident with an iguana at the Miami Open—and kicked it with a veiled reference to fellow ATP officiating team member, and gold badge umpire, Ignacio 'Nacho' Forcadell from Spain.
"Since then, we call our colleague, 'Iguanacho,'" she said.
While she's a full-time tennis umpire these days, and spends around 20 weeks per year at ATP tournaments and Grand Slams, Tourte has also moonlighted as an ER nurse back in France. As she rose through the ranks of officiating, Tourte stayed active in her first career.
"I [tried] to combine both jobs for the longest time I could," she said. "In the last three years, I didn't go back much to the hospital, but it's still a job that I love."
Among her career highlights, Tourte has umpired three Grand Slam singles finals, and last year, became the first woman to oversee the singles final at the ATP Finals. When she took charge of the 2021 Roland Garros final between Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas, she became just the fifth woman in tennis history to umpire a men's singles final at a Grand Slam, and second to do so in Paris.