Legends light it up at Roland Garros (photos)

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In the second week of the French Open, once the singles draws have been whittled down, the Trophée des Légendes begins.

The definition of “légende” can be bent and bruised a bit – it helps if you’re French.

And some of the participants are here mainly because they have TV or coaching commitments.

But most are more than legit. There are a lot of titles in this lot.

One match featured Martina Navratilova and Lindsay Davenport against Kim Clijsters and Tracy Austin. That’s a pretty high Slam total right there.

legends

Here are some pics of some of them at work.

The event is put together by Mansour Bahrami, the Iranian-born longtime resident of France who is pretty infamous in the seniors’ circle as a master showman and trick-shot artist.

He barely broke the top 200 in singles during his pro career, although he did reach a ranking of No. 30 in doubles. But his “retirement career” has been very successful.

legends

He’s 61 now though. So he won’t have too many years to ply his trade even though he looks fit as ever. This year, he played with France’s Fabrice Santoro, also known as “Le Magicien”. The Magician and the Wizard together: nice touch.

We have a successor for Bahrami in the crowd-pleasing department. That would be Michael Llodra, a French lefty with hands like McEnroe who lights up when there’s a crowd.

Llodra is just 37. But with four kids and a wonky elbow, he didn’t want to continue playing on as a doubles specialist even though he likely could still make a pretty great living at it. He has five titles and a career-best ranking of No. 21 in singles, 26 titles (including the Australian Open twice, and Wimbledon in 2007) and a career high of No. 3 in doubles.

Total ham. But after he and Sébastien Grosjean won the “over 35s” division, he was quite emotional as he laughed and pointed out that no matter what, he can now say he “won Roland Garros.”

He almost did, in men’s doubles. Llodra made the final twice; he and Nicolas Mahut lost in a third-set tiebreaker to the Bryan brothers in 2013. 

The prize money was excellent. The winning teams split €40,000. Even the last-place teams split €18,000. 

John McEnroe’s still got it

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ROLAND GARROS – As the second week of the French Open kicks in, players who once were headliners now are extra entertainment on Court 2, for the benefit of grounds pass holders. 

But they sure are entertaining. And there’s probably a nice little cheque at the end of it.

At 58, John McEnroe is the second-eldest man in the legends’ draws, which are divided into over-35s,  and over-45s. Only master showman Mansour Bahrami, at 61, is older.

But he’s showing off the benefits of the significant time we’re told he spends in the gym these days. His legs were never that muscular during his playing days.

And McEnroe is still the gold standard when it comes to the serve-volley game. 

The hands are still lightning-quick. And he still does just enough – not too much, never too little – with the volley. It should be compulsory homework for the kids in the junior draws to have to come out and watch at least one of his matches.

Here’s what he looked like Wednesday.

Serious Mac

For a few years, McEnroe would always put on at least one “YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS” skit in every legends’ match. That’s probably because he figured that’s what everyone expected him to do.

But on Wednesday, he pretty much stuck to the tennis. And the full stands attested to how much the fans still appreciate what he brings to the court.

The changeovers with French partner Cédric Pioline were a hilarious master class in solitude. And some of the looks on McEnroe’s face when his partner would miss a routine volley were pretty priceless.

Put yourself in Pioline’s shoes. How nervous would you be at the net, knowing the master is standing right next to you – and knowing he’d never miss any of those volleys?

MAJOR pressure.

The pair ended up beating Goran Ivanisevic and Sergi Bruguera 3-6, 6-3, 10-7 in the match tiebreak.