A meeting like no other: it was on a tennis court that we had the opportunity to interview Stéphane Houdet. It's not every day that we have the chance to get to know a champion like him: winner of 23 Grand Slam tournaments, medalist at the Paralympic Games, winner of Roland Garros and the US Open in singles. The list is long. Beyond the victories, Stéphane's journey is extraordinary, filled with great lessons, and a wave of positivity.
Can you tell us about yourself? Who are you ?
I have been passionate about ball games since I was very young, particularly the yellow ball, but I also had an episode with the white ball (golf). I've been playing tennis since I was very young, then I had to find a job so I became a veterinarian. Then I had to join forces with a colleague and to celebrate this future association, we decided to take a tour of the capitals of Europe on a motorbike. During this trip, I had an accident. This accident allowed me to return to my first loves, my childhood dreams and to enjoy the life of a professional athlete.
It was following my accident, which today I play tennis, that I won Roland Garros, which was the tournament I dreamed of when I was younger. So not on my two legs like my mentor Yannick Noah, but with as much pleasure and passion as those who play on their two legs.
I turned an accident and a difficulty into a real opportunity to live an even better life. To the question asked by my children “Dad, what is the happiest day of your life?” ", and after having searched in my past beyond their birth or other wonderful moments of joy, I answer again and again that the day of the accident conditioned the life I have today. A dream life. I have the chance to travel all over the world, to do 21 tournaments a year. After my matches, I also have the opportunity to follow the big names in tennis that you know and to comment on their matches for French TV. Before I performed C-sections on cows at night in a beautiful village in the center of France, today I travel around the world kicking a ball, and having the chance to be supported on a daily basis.
Golf and tennis athlete, former veterinary doctor, and business manager, what makes you succeed in everything you do?
I think that as a business manager, I have no right to say it because I will be scolded by my wife who is a real business manager and who points out every time how bad I am. for this part.
The sporting part is the love of balls and I am convinced that when you learn the gestures by mimicry young, as early as possible, you are more likely to succeed.
Success is something very relative, we can always imagine success at all levels. After my accident, my first success, my first success wasn't hitting a ball at all, it was putting a spoon in my mouth. The brain had started from scratch. It's quite strange when you're 25 to leave like that. But with determination we get there. Always !
Can you tell us about your news in the coming months between Roland Garros and the Olympic Games? How do you prepare to stay at the top level for so long?
My preparation for the different events is quite similar from one tournament to another. I play 21 tournaments a year, Roland Garros, the US Open, Wimbledon, or the Olympic Games. Apart from the surfaces, and the balls to choose from, it's always the same preparation: a mix of tennis and physical and mental preparation around the event. For me, it's twice-daily training around these three activities, and I continue to learn each time!
At the same time, I am also working on my tool, on my formula 1: the lightest wheelchair in the world for playing tennis. For the moment the world record is 6.2 kg and I would like to go below this 6.2 kg. This will also allow me to move better on difficult surfaces like grass or clay at Roland Garros. I have always liked to surround myself with a research team to think starting from a blank sheet on how to practice my discipline and subsequently find a college of skills with engineers, biomechanists, researchers, manufacturers, tennis specialists to combine all of this and everyone brings their skills to do the best.
What values common to Circle resonate most with you and why?
We can bounce back on the idea of changing the world and start from a blank page to design new products and new things! What was magical with Circle is this same idea of starting from scratch, of creating a product that will be perfect, in tune with the times, ecological and adapted to our needs today. And also, imagine starting very small to become very big, and I like this idea of France which will shine internationally.
What message do you want to convey by wearing Circle clothing?
Circle is a virtuous circle of virtuous economics.
For me, knowing how to detach yourself from difficult moments to entertain thoughts that elevate them instead of a vicious circle is the key. Setting a goal, and taking small steps every day to achieve it: this is what can change our lives. From a downward slope, we begin to reverse the trend, and we create a virtuous circle. Once we put our finger in a circle, we can stay there! I have developed a philosophy associated with this mindset: either things are vital, in which case they are important, or they are not.
What do you think about combining the worlds of fashion and sport to send strong messages to younger generations?
This is the common point that we have with Circle: the idea of the beauty of a playing field: it is as much the beauty of the place, of the gestures of the game, and the fact of feeling at home. comfortable, comfortable, and stylish in the sportswear we wear. When we feel beautiful, we will radiate beauty. Circle's approach was around tailor-made clothing and quality. And because it's discreet, it's even stronger.
If you had a message to send to all human beings on the planet, what would you say?
“If it is possible it has already been done, if it is impossible we will do it”