Matt Ebden: Postcards from Paris
Competing at Roland Garros is a unique experience – made more special in 2022 for MATT EBDEN, as he visits the clay-court Slam with his family for the first time.
More than a decade since he first competed at Roland Garros, Australia’s Matt Ebden returns to the clay-court Slam with his wife Kim and baby son Harvey. The West Australian is cherishing every moment of competing on the Terre Battue – the unique experiences of a magical city enhanced even further as Ebden experiences them with his family for the first time. He joins tennis.com.au to share more behind-the-scenes insights from their travels on tour.
The city of Paris really is special. We have been coming here a long time now and it took a few years to get used to it and to find its true charm – but it’s now one of our favourite cities in the world. It has a certain allure that you don’t find anywhere else.
Particularly exploring the city by foot or bike (or now with pram) or just walking the streets at night after dinner. So many amazing streets, cafes, terrace bars and sidewalk dining. And, of course, the architecture is stunning. The Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees – there is so much to explore and see and do.
This time our movements are of course more limited with Harvey, so we mostly stay around the hotel. We chose an area within walking distance to the Seine River, the Eiffel Tower and lots of great streets and cafe areas.
Roland Garros also brings its own special vibe. It’s known to be the most foreign Slam and surface to Aussies generally, but over the years I’ve learnt to love and appreciate the surface, even if we didn’t truly build our games for it. The sliding, the angles, the different types of points, and all the challenges the clay surface brings in a hope of mastering, is part of the beauty of it too.
Singles wise, the clay-court season is typically quite short for me. I generally prioritise hard and grass courts where possible, except for the very biggest events. With doubles, however, I don’t find it makes any difference and was glad we won our first clay-court title (in Houston, with Max Purcell) earlier this year.
I really enjoy the sliding, and the unique nature of it because it’s slightly refreshing and can break up a monotonous year. However, I am always very happy when the clay-court season ends and I get to step onto the grass courts. After the clay season, stepping onto grass feels like I am walking on the carpet in the lounge or bedroom – to me, it truly feels like home.
Our Paris experience was different this year for sure, having a baby with us for the first time. New challenges and new feelings. Which also makes it exciting and provides extra and different motivation and vigour. But we still put in as much good work and preparation as possible to fine-tune for the event, with a goal to perform well.
Time away from the court has mainly consisted of walks by the river and to a great Australian brunch cafe (called O Coffee for all those Aussies in Paris) nearby, as well as around the Eiffel. We are fortunate to have a beautiful view of almost the whole of Paris, the river and the Eiffel Tower out our window which is nice particularly for Kim as she naturally spends a lot of time in the apartment taking care of Harvey.
Travelling with a young baby is definitely a challenge. Especially because the job of a professional athlete doesn’t end when you clock off at 5 pm, for example, like a lot of jobs. Sleep, diet, hydration, and physical work and preparations are all part of the gig, and it is sometimes hard mid-tournament to find time to be able help Kim and give her a breather.
Sometimes she gets to leave him with me and go for a walk or get some food or coffee and have some time to herself. But I have to commend her as a mother, she is doing an incredible job looking after Harv’ around the clock. I have soooo much respect for every mother and parent out there. It really is eye-opening but at the same time, an incredible and amazing experience.
COMING UP: Matt Ebden joins us from Europe as the family travels continue.