PARIS – Unlike in New York, at the U.S. Open where she was placed in quarantine and forced out of the women's doubles tournament after playing cards with a coronavirus-infected player, Kristina Mladenovic came up trumps in doubles at the French Open.
The French player and Hungarian partner Timea Babos defended their Roland Garros doubles title on Sunday, winning their fourth Grand Slam title together. Then, in what came across as a non-too-subtle dig at U.S. public health officials, Mladenovic said she is looking forward to playing cards again with countryman Benoit Paire.
Paire tested positive for the coronavirus in New York. Mladenovic was deemed at risk because she came into contact with Paire during a practice session and a card game. She was placed in quarantine and the U.S. Tennis Association removed the top-seeded team of Mladenovic and Babos from the doubles competition.
Seeded second in Paris, Babos and Mladenovic beat the 14th-seeded pairing of Alexa Guarachi from Chile and American Desirae Krawczyk 6-4, 7-5 in Sunday's final.
Mladenovic struggled to speak, taking repeated pauses, in her emotional winner's speech on court. She gave Paire a shout-out, said they had suffered rotten luck in New York and declared that she is looking forward to “a good game of cards" with Paire and other French players who also were quarantined in New York.
Mladenovic said that being locked down in her New York hotel suite was mentally draining and brutal on her body, preventing her from training and ruining her preparations for Roland Garros. In singles in Paris, she lost in the first round.
“Physically and emotionally, I was just exhausted today and you carried me from start to finish,” she said to Babos. “To be here with you with this trophy is very powerful."
As well as winning at Roland Garros last year, they have also won twice at the Australian Open, in 2018 and 2020.