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Since 1928, the Monte-Carlo Country Club has hosted one of the oldest tennis competitions in the world, the Monte-Carlo tournament, which has witnessed the achievements of legends including Björn Borg, Ivan Lendl and Rafael Nadal.

Built in 1893 on the cellars of the Hotel de Paris, the Principality’s first tennis club was called Lawn Tennis de Monte-Carlo. In 1897 it hosted the first Monte-Carlo tennis tournament, one of a very few men’s or women’s competitions to have international status at that time.

You Can Meet Some of the Greatest Tennis Players at the MCCC
 Read Mélanie-Antoinette de Massy's interview

In the 1920s, the Principality’s tennis club moved to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin after a spell in La Condamine and then on the roof of a garage in Beausoleil. Due to a lack of space in the Principality, the Société des Bains de Mer acquired several hectares of land on the Franco–Monegasque border, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

The Monte-Carlo Country Club was officially opened by Prince Louis II of Monaco in 1928, in the presence of various royals, including King Gustaf V of Sweden, an avid tennis fan, the Duke of Connaught, Prince Nicholas of Greece, Grand Duchess Elena and Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich of Russia.

© DR
© Michael Alesi

Designed by the architect Letrosne in the art deco style, the new club had 20 courts (including the central court, now named the Rainier III Court, and the Court des Princes), a restaurant with capacity for 150 guests, and changing rooms equipped with individual lockers for up to 700 members.

According to one of the era’s great players, Teddy Tinling, it was “an ode to tennis”. It remains so today, thanks in particular to the exceptional setting overlooking the Mediterranean. Tennis players living in Monaco, including Björn Borg in the past and Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Tomáš Berdych today, visit the club to hit a few balls with their neighbours.

The ochre clay of the Monte-Carlo Country Club still hosts the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters Series, which has been won, among others, by Ilie Năstase, Björn Borg, Mats Wilander, and above all Rafael Nadal, who holds the competition record with 11 victories. This Masters 1000 remains one of the most popular tournaments among players and audiences alike. Over the years, many famous people have visited the club’s terraces, including Greta Garbo, Colette, Sacha Guitry, and even Winston Churchill.

Mélanie-Antoinette de Massy has been President of the MCCC since June 2020, following in the footsteps of her mother, Baroness Elizabeth-Ann de Massy, and grandmother, Princess Antoinette. She is also President of the Monegasque Tennis Federation.

© Direction de la Communication / Michael Alesi
Interview

You Can Meet Some of the Greatest Tennis Players at the MCCC

Mélanie-Antoinette de Massy, President of the Monte-Carlo Country Club, takes us behind the scenes of the Club.

You've been going to the MCCC since you were a child. What are your most special memories?

There are so many memories, it’s hard to choose! Our tournament, the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, has given us some magical moments… I think back to matches that thrilled us all, such as the 1995 final between Boris Becker and Thomas Muster, who won the match in five sets, or 2017, when the Monaco Tennis Federation doubles team reached the semi-finals. I can’t forget all the Davis Cup matches played at the Club, with such a special atmosphere and such exciting matches!

When it was under threat, the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters was vigorously defended by the world's best players. How do you explain why the public and the players love it so much?

The time when the Tournament was threatened with being downgraded was particularly difficult for all of us. I remember taking part in endless meetings, discussions and conference calls with our staff, our lawyers and of course the ATP. I was particularly impressed at that time by my mother, who fought tirelessly to protect our tournament… Mum was a really extraordinary person, with an iron will!

We were all deeply touched by the players’ enthusiasm and their initiatives to defend the tournament. Their stance undoubtedly helped us a lot; as did the support of the public. I think this affection is definitely due to several reasons – such as the fact that we are the oldest Masters 1000 and the second oldest tournament after Wimbledon.  Hosting an event like this in a club that is active all year round also creates a very special, almost family-like atmosphere, especially as some of the players train regularly at the Club.

Which ATP players - current and former - are among the MCCC's members?

The list is long! You can regularly see some of the greatest tennis players on the pathways, in the restaurant and on the courts… Among former players, I could mention legends such as Bjorn Borg, Guillermo Vilas, Boris Becker and Marat Safin, as well as Michaël Stich and Zeljko Franulovic, Helena Sukova and Virginie Razzano.

As for current players, we often have the pleasure of welcoming Novak Djokovic, David Goffin, Grigor Dimitrov, Stan Wawrinka, Mihail Zverev, Marin Cilic, Fabio Fognini, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Milos Raonic and Bernard Tomic, as well as Donna Vekic, Karolina Pliskova and Maria Sakkari, for example – not forgetting new-generation players, such as Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.  And of course, there are also celebrities from the tennis world such as Toni Nadal, Rafa’s uncle!  As I always say, the tennis world in Monaco is one big family …

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