Advertising

Earlier this month, Alizé Cornet confirmed that she will play the final tournament of her career at the place where it all started: Roland Garros.

A native of Nice, the 34-year-old will officially extend her Open Era record of 69 consecutive Grand Slam appearances when she meets seventh seed Zheng Qinwen Tuesday on Court Philippe Chatrier. A victory would mark Cornet’s 26th career Top 10 win and send her through to the second round of her home Grand Slam event for the 14th time.

TENNIS.com caught up with the six-time WTA title holder ahead of her opener (watch part of our conversation above):

Alizé, I was looking through a Roland Garros media guide and noticed you are set to become the first woman to ever make 20 consecutive appearances here. When you think of everything you’ve done, where does this feat, along with 69 consecutive Grand Slam appearances, rank among your proudest achievements?

CORNET: It shows how constant and how consistent my longevity is. Everything together, it shows really who I was on the tour. Someone very disciplined that worked really hard. This longevity is really representative of the player that I am, so I am very proud of it. And time really flew. I cannot believe that it's going to be my 20th Roland Garros. I still have this feeling that I'm a 15-year-old girl coming to Paris for the first time. It feels very special to say goodbye here.

Cornet owns 76 career major match wins.

Cornet owns 76 career major match wins.

Advertising

Thinking back to where it all started, what stands out about your debut at your home major?

CORNET: It's actually hard to remember how I was feeling because it was 19 years ago and I was a kid back then. I think I was very excited. First of all, I remember being very excited about having the wild card here. This invitation meant so much to me. I was so excited and I couldn't wait to be on the court and show the crowd what I got. I think the main feeling was this excitement of being on the court. And when I won this first match, I couldn't believe it. And then I got to play one of my favorite player at that time, which was Amélie Mauresmo in the second round. It was just a magical first Roland Garros for me.

Last week, you had a taste of saying goodbye at another event close to your heart, in Strasbourg. Were the emotions everything you expected, or more? And do you feel that experience has helped lay the groundwork for your last dance at Roland Garros?

CORNET: It was a very short and sweet ceremony and I didn't expect it, to be honest. I was a bit emotional, yes, but I don't think it's even comparable to what I am going to feel in Roland Garros. I think this was a little preparation, but the big deal is going to be here and I would really try to not be too overwhelmed by my emotions. At the same time, I think it's completely normal to be emotional and to be sad in a way, to be nostalgic, to say goodbye. I can prepare myself for my match and what can follow. It's not an easy job to prepare for all that stuff.

Advertising

Speaking of preparations, what’s the approach going in? Keeping to what’s worked for two decades, soaking up time with all the friendly faces you’ve interacted with over the years?

CORNET: I'm really trying to prepare this last Roland Garros the normal way, like I always did for the past 19 years because I still want to do good in this tournament. It's very important for me that I take time to really practice, do my fitness and my recovery. Trying to be super professional till the end. But yeah, there are a few girls on the tour that I really appreciate being with, and so I booked my practice depending on that. And I had some great hits so far. I think it's very important for me to feel great vibes and some friendship. That’s a little story for this week. I hope that some happiness will build up and I will be just super excited to go on the court.

I would really try to not be too overwhelmed by my emotions. At the same time, I think it's completely normal to be emotional and to be sad in a way, to be nostalgic, to say goodbye. I can prepare myself for my match and what can follow. Alize Cornet

Advertising

Let’s talk about your first round. You've been a proverbial giant slayer throughout your entire career. In a way, is it fitting that you're playing somebody who made the final at the most recent major in January? A big match, big court, big moment essentially represents who you are as a competitor.

CORNET: I'm super excited to play against Qinwen. First of all, it's a player that I really like. I like the way she plays. I've been watching her for a little while now and I think she's been really good. And you're right, it's so good to go on a big court against a big player and have absolutely nothing to lose. That's where I usually play my best tennis, even though this is going to be a special match for me.

So I don't really know how I'm going to react to that. And also, she's playing amazing tennis, so I'll have to be super strong if I want to try to beat her. But I'm happy with my draw. I think I'm just going to give it all to the very end and try to make her have a really hard time on the court.

Finally, who’s coming to cheer you on? Packing that player box as tightly as possible?

CORNET: I have a lot of friends coming to watch me. My whole family is there, my parents, my brother, my partner, my nieces, my sister-in-law. It’s going to be a big crowd out there, and that's what I wanted because I want to feel the love. I want to be able to say goodbye to them and to the whole French crowd. I think it's going to be an unforgettable moment for me.

The entire sport at your fingertips

The entire sport at your fingertips

Download the TENNIS.com app now.