Paul-Henri Mathieu is not only a tennis player. Whilst not very talkative with the press, the winner of the Roland Garros Lemon Award in 2007 has things to write. In 2011 he published, in collaboration with Renaud...
Paul-Henri Mathieu is not only a tennis player. Whilst not very talkative with the press, the winner of the Roland Garros Lemon Award in 2007 has things to write. In 2011 he published, in collaboration with Renaud Leblond, Tennis, mode d'emploi (Tennis, a manual, published only in France, editor's note) *. When the time comes for him to pack his suitcase for the holidays, we wanted to know what relationship the former World No. 12 has with books.
Your book could be called Tennis for Dummies?
Yes, because it’s a good read for everybody. From beginners to more advanced players. It talks about the history of tennis, of technique and tactics. Even the pros can learn a few things from it. The sales figures? I don’t know the numbers, but I think it's doing pretty well.
Do you read books about tennis?
Never! It doesn’t interest me. Now and then I read a book about sports, but it's rare. I couldn't tell you which the last one I read was.
Do you ever happen to fall asleep on a book?
Often! And for the simple reason that I read in the evening in my bed. Also, in a plane, if I need to rest I take a book and it makes me close my eyes. But when you think about it, it's still better than taking a pill.
Amélie Nothomb, Marc Levy, Harlan Coben or Victor Hugo?
Harlan Coben! I love his plotlines, his style of writing and how he manages to keep the suspense going. In fact, I've read all his books.
Paper or e-reader?
E-reader. You must live with the times. Anyway, for me, there’s no doubt that one day paper will disappear.
The writer with whom you would like to spend an evening…?
Ok, I know this may be difficult, but if I had to choose, it would be Victor Hugo. This is one of the greatest names of French literature. Is he important to me? Of course, like to everyone else.
When you were a kid, which comic book hero were you dreaming to be?
Lucky Luke, without a doubt! I loved his: “I-shoot-faster-than-my-shadow” thing.
Do you use a bookmark or do you fold the corner of the page?
I fold the corners. You may think that my books must be in a mess, but not that much because when I open a book it's not to read two pages…
What style is your library?
Modern. Rather designer. There must be a hundred books or so in it.
Do you use a feather duster or do you leave a light layer of dust to give it more character?
No, my house is clean; I don't let the dust settle. Well, to be exact, my housekeeper doesn't let it settle. I'm a bit manic on that front...
The book you're ashamed to own…?
I don't know... I can't think of anything really... When it's bad, I don't go much beyond the title...
An author that you hate…?
It's not to avoid the question, but I don’t dwell on what I don't like.
An author that you like…?
Marc Levy. It's quite nice, easy to read.
To give a little more appeal to the great works of literature, do you think we should use another expression than 'classic'?
‘Ancient’. Oh no, it doesn't work... No, but 'classic' is good. It didn't stop me from reading them at school. And I can assure you that I wasn't cheating...
Interview by Charles Michel
*Tennis, mode d’emploi, 160 pages, EPA.