By Miranda Alexander-Webber
PARIS (Reuters) – Security worries could create a tense atmosphere at the French Open this year after a bomb attack on a British concert hall killed 22 people, French tennis player Lucas Pouille said on Tuesday.
Monday’s attack in Manchester, claimed by Islamic State, raised concerns about safety at big events worldwide.
Paris police chief Michel Delpuech said French authorities were looking at security at cultural and sports events, including the French Open which starts next week at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris.
Pouille, voicing outrage at the Manchester attack, said he believed security would be stepped up at Roland Garros this year.
He said he didn’t usually think about whether he felt safe on court. “But when something like that happens, you think about it, you think Roland will be a bit tense, that the atmosphere will … not be like usual,” he said in an interview with Reuters Television.
“Security will have to do its job and be well organized so that people are safe,” he said.
Pouille, 23, was speaking at the launch of a marketing campaign for evian mineral water. Pouille, American player Madison Keys and former world number one Maria Sharapova attended the event as “ambassadors” for the brand.
While Pouille, ranked 17th in the world, and Keys spoke of their hopes for the Paris Open, Sharapova was refused a wild card for the tournament.
Sharapova posed for photos at the evian launch on the rooftop of a Paris department store, but organizers declined Reuters’ request to interview her.
The 30-year-old, who won the French Open in 2012 and 2014 but was hit with a 15-month doping ban last year, had been widely expected to be fast-tracked into the year’s second grand slam tournament. [nL4N1II4T9]
After only returning to the circuit last month, Sharapova’s ranking was not high enough to warrant an automatic place in the Roland Garros main draw or in the qualifying event.
Asked if she felt there needed to be tighter security at Roland Garros in the wake of the Manchester attack, Keys said: “I am sure that the organization and everyone in charge is going to do everything they can and I trust that they know what they are doing.”
She said she “definitely” felt safe when taking part in major tournaments. “I go through security just as everyone else so I know they are doing what they can,” she said.
Keys, who missed the Australian open in January after wrist surgery, said her wrist was feeling much better.
The 22-year-old, who is ranked 13th in the world, said her goal for Roland Garros this year was “to feel good on the court and feel confident in matchplay again.” Her long-term goals were to be “in the top five and win a grand slam.”
(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Sandra Maler)