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Inside Wilson’s Historic Basketball Game at Roland-Garros

The sporting goods brand welcomed four professional athletes to an exclusive 2-on-2 basketball game at the iconic French Open venue.

Since its construction in 1928, Stade Roland-Garros has strictly been home to tennis. That changed briefly on Wednesday when, for the first time in its 95-year history, the iconic venue hosted a basketball game on Court Philippe Chatrier.

In the lead-up to the NBA‘s 2023 Paris game between the Pistons and Bulls, Wilson briefly took over the famous center court where Serena Williams won three French Open singles titles. The friendly game of 2-on-2 pitted retired Chicago Bulls star Joakim Noah and Seattle Storm forward Gabby Williams against Detroit Pistons great Rip Hamilton and retired tennis pro David Ferrer.

The teams competed on one side of the illustrious red clay grounds, naturally playing in best-of-three sets. Hamilton and Ferrer didn’t make it easy, but it was Noah and Williams who emerged victorious. Noah couldn’t help but be somewhat emotional about the logistics of playing at that venue. 40 years ago, his father, Yannick Noah, won the French Open at Court Philippe Chatrier. The former world No. 3 took down Sweden’s Mats Wilander in straight sets, 6–2, 7–5, 7–6. To this day, the elder Noah remains the last Frenchman to win a men’s singles title at the French Open.

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“To play on the same court my father did in 1983 was something I’ll never forget,” Noah told Boardroom. “Although I decided to play basketball instead of tennis, this is a reminder of how different sports are more connected than we think.”

Speaking to Boardroom, Gabby Williams reflected on Wilson’s impact as it pertains to her career trajectory.

“There’s something iconic about the orange and white WNBA Wilson basketball,” she said. “I can still remember playing with it for the first time and I was so mad at myself for dribbling it out of bounds twice. But the orange and white will forever be tied to the W, and that’s in large part to Wilson and their commitment to growing the game.”

The only tennis player out of the four, Ferrer retired from the game professionally in 2019, but still plays at a recreational level. The Spaniard reached the French Open final in 2013, losing in straight sets to the King of Clay, Rafael Nadal. Nonetheless, Ferrer says that loss is his most memorable moment from his playing days at Roland-Garros.

“Roland-Garros is a special place to play,” the three-time Davis Cup champion said. “No matter the result, I’m always grateful to have been invited to participate.”

Guests at the 2-on-2 event also got a sneak peek at Wilson‘s new sportswear line for men and women, launching in Europe later this year.

The NBA in Paris game on Thursday marks the first NBA game in Europe since 2020. The first regular season NBA game in Paris took place Jan. 24, 2020, and featured the Charlotte Hornets and the Milwaukee Bucks. This year’s showdown between the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls tips off at 3 p.m. ET.

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About The Author
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi
Vinciane Ngomsi is a Staff Writer at Boardroom. She began her career in sports journalism with bylines at SB Nation, USA Today and, most recently, Yahoo. She received a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Truman State University and when she's not watching old clips of Serena Williams' best matches, she is likely perfecting her signature chocolate chip cookie recipe or preparing a traditional Cameroonian meal.