Tennis and Languages
Why is the French Open, named after Roland Garros, a French pioneering aviator, so special? First of all, it is the only Grand Slam tournament played in a non-English-speaking country. As such, it is the only one to be translated, with three official languages: French, English and Spanish.
Besides, it is also the only Grand Slam tournament played on clay, and learning to play on this surface seems to be as big a challenge as learning another language for tennis players, especially for native English speakers. No wonder that the only American man to win this title more than once in the last 50 years, Jim Courier, learnt to speak French.
Nowadays, rare are the American players, men or women alike, able to speak another language. Serena Williams is an exception: she can speak Spanish and some Italian. Moreover, she has been working on her French and is the lucky owner of an apartment in Paris, where she trains at the Mouratoglou Academy.
Andy Murray, the only British player in the ATP Top 100, is not able to converse in different languages, although he lived in Spain for two years.
Spanish, just like English, is another major language. Consequently, Spaniards have less incentive to learn a second language. If we have a look at the Top 5, Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer are not really known for their language skills, even though Nadal showed some signs of improvement during his speech after his 2014 French Open victory.
On the other hand, two Swiss players are among the Top 5: Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka. Federer can give his post-match press conferences in English, French, and Swiss German, and has some knowledge of Swedish and Italian. Wawrinka is also a polyglot, as he speaks five languages: French, German, English, Czech, and Italian. Switzerland is a multilingual country, which makes it definitely easier for its citizens to acquire language skills.
Last but not least, Novak Djokovic, the world number 1, speaks Serbian, English, German, Italian, and French, and considers himself as a language lover. Coming from Serbia, he has been well aware that Serbian is a minor language, which also encouraged him to learn new languages. He has made fast progress especially on his French since moving to Monaco, and he recently won the crowd over when he delivered a speech in French.
According to Djokovic, there is a Serbian saying which states that the more languages you know, [the] more is your worth as a person. But how much is your company worth on the international scene in terms of linguistic skills?
Just as Roland Garros became the first man to fly a plane over the Mediterranean Sea a century ago, I believe your company could fly over its competition by speaking the language of its audience.
Let me know in the comments below!
Want to share this post? Here are some ready-made tweets:
Tennis and Languages bit.ly/JJTLRG via @jeromejeromeFR #ATP #tennis #xl8 #t9n
The #FrenchOpen is the only Grand Slam to be translated bit.ly/JJTLRG #ATP #tennis #xl8 #t9n
#Djokovic, world number 1 with 5 spoken languages bit.ly/JJTLRG #ATP #tennis #xl8 #t9n