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Tournament Press Conference

BNP Paribas Open – Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday, March 18, 2018 - Tournament Press Conference at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Matthew Thomas/BNP Paribas Open)
by BNP Paribas Open
03/18/2018

MATT VAN TUINEN: Thank you. Thank you for coming. Obviously you know Tommy Haas, Tournament Director; Peggy Michel, Assistant Tournament Director; and Jean-Yves Fillion, CEO of BNP Paribas USA.

So I’ll let Jean-Yves start, and Tommy and Peggy have a few things to say, and then we’ll open it up for questions.

JEAN-YVES FILLION: Well, thank you for being here. Actually, it’s always a privilege to be here at Indian Wells.

What I wanted to share with you today is, first and foremost, I have been privileged myself and the Bank, as well, to be associated and to be part of this wonderful journey with the BNP Paribas Open for now a decade.

What I’m thrilled to announce today is that the Bank has renewed its commitment to sponsor this tournament for the next five years, which, all in, will lead to 15 years’ relationship. It’s a very long time in any space, by the way, and in the world of tennis specifically. I think it just highlights the wonderful partnership we have had with the tournament, with the organization, with Mr. Ellison and with Tommy, and with Peggy here. That’s really the main announcement I wanted to make here.

I think it’s fair to say that, you know, since 2009, this five years — you know, I’m a banker. I’m supposed to be good at math, but I think five years leads into 2023 — I believe it will make us the longest-ever sponsor of this tournament.

I know you’re probably all asking yourself, and I’m just trying to anticipate here, why is it so meaningful to BNP Paribas? It’s pretty simple. It’s, first and foremost, this is the US. We have 16,000 people in the United States. This is California. We have a very strong presence in California through our Bank of the West affiliate here.

It’s very important to us. It’s all part of the fabric of the country and of this state, and seeing us sponsor the tennis worldwide for over 40 years, that’s really what it means, and being associated to the best, the very best and one of the very best, you know, tournaments in the world, definitely the best and the most visible outside of the Grand Slams.

What I wanted to share, as well, and before I turn it over to Tommy, is having had the privilege to be here for the last ten years, and I’m French-born but I have lived most of my life in the US, and I actually lived in California for 11 years, I have gotten to know the community better here. Part of what we do is, obviously throughout tennis, is make sure we contribute and we give back to the community that hosts us.

I announced yesterday our third year of scholarships. You know, we have picked schools the first two years in Coachella Valley. We went to the Desert Mirage school this year. We have given away two scholarships. It’s life-changing for these kids. You know that, right? They are good, they play tennis, have great grades, but they needed support to go to college, otherwise they don’t.

As part of this renewal of the sponsorship of BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, we will be expanding our scholarship program, going from two to three kids, to make sure we can not only contribute to the region, but we can make sure we contribute to their education and they deserve it so well.

And with this, I will turn it over to Tommy.

TOMMY HAAS: Thank you. Well, thank you, Jean-Yves. Thank you so much to BNP Paribas.

As this tournament and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden have grown over the past decade, you have been an exceptionally great partner, and we are excited to continue this great partnership. You know, we are looking always to expand, continue to grow, and make this event a world-class event, and to have your partnership means the world to us. We can’t wait to continue to look for what’s ahead and make it even better.

So thank you again. Thank you, also, for your kind words and the human that you are. Appreciate it.

JEAN-YVES FILLION: Thank you.

PEGGY MICHEL: Good morning. I would like to thank you, Jean-Yves, personally.

We started this journey in 2008. And we feel that we have “the” No. 1 tennis sponsor in the entire world here at the BNP Paribas Open, and we are so glad that you want to continue with us. We started out as a partner in business, I think, and we have turned into a family.

We want to thank the entire staff that you have that they work so hard every year to make this such an outstanding tournament. And with the benefit of having a Bank of the West coming in, as well, to help support BNP Paribas.

So thank you again for everything, and we look forward to another wonderful five years.

JEAN-YVES FILLION: Same here.

MATT VAN TUINEN: Questions?

Stunned silence (laughter).

JEAN-YVES FILLION: We have been totally confusing or super clear, either way.

Q. What were the parameters of the relationship before? Was it ending after this year until this announcement or were there…

JEAN-YVES FILLION: You know, we had, I mean, no specific parameters. As you know, Peggy and Tommy highlighted very well, we renewed it twice during the last decade.

I have to say this partnership has been so seamless that the main parameter has really been trust and communication and sharing. Candidly, it’s been quite natural to look into the future.

You know, good partners speak pretty much every day. And when there is a moment in time that you have to make a more, I would say, defining decision, when this level of joint mindset and communication exists, it’s a pretty seamless process to look into the future.

But Tommy and Peggy, please.

PEGGY MICHEL: Well, I don’t think we were looking for anyone. I think we found, as I said in 2008 when we were looking for a title sponsor, we were very fortunate to be introduced to Jean-Yves and to BNP Paribas. As I said, it’s this unbelievable friendship. We work very well together.

We want to be the best tournament in the world. Having BNP Paribas, whom is the best sponsor of tennis, you know, we wanted that to happen again. But we were not looking for anyone else, and I guess I kept twisting Jean-Yves’ arm every time I saw him, saying, You must come back, you must come back.

But I think it’s a mutual agreement that we both wanted this relationship to continue.

JEAN-YVES FILLION: And I was not looking to anyone else, either. It worked well (smiling).

Q. First of all, congratulations. Really impressed with the community outreach you just spoke about. I know going forward things are kind of tied to the Coachella Valley here. Are you ever thinking of extending outside of the Valley and to other California communities outside of the Coachella Valley for community outreach?

JEAN-YVES FILLION: Right. It’s a wonderful question. Same thing. I’m going to have Tommy and Peggy jump in here, as well, because it’s really been — it’s part of this partnership. You know, it’s been looking already outside of the stadium which led into the Coachella Valley.

Just as a background, the Bank is doing a lot in terms of supporting education beyond tennis, you know, around the world and across the United States.

I think for the time being, you know, in life it’s better to do it versus to say it, and we wanted to be very specific to target, you know, a school, you know, in the vicinity of the stadium. But I believe that, you know, going forward, if I look at the five years ahead, anything that makes sense in terms of supporting this community in a broader way is something we always discuss and consider.

Peggy, you have been a big driver of this.

PEGGY MICHEL: Well, within the Coachella Valley we have, you know, many, many schools. But the area that we have been thinking about mostly is out by Coachella Valley High School and Desert Mirage High School. It means so much to those communities to receive the support.

The two recipients this year, Jennifer and Jade, they are the first members of their family to go on to college. That is huge. A lot of times these little communities are forgotten. It’s really with the BNP Paribas support and Jean-Yves, who — you know, you can’t imagine. We send him the recipients. We send him their information, he reads their information, and then the choices that are made come through Jean-Yves, but also through the school counselors.

And you just can’t imagine. We went out there the other day, and this entire auditorium was filled with young freshmen, sophomores, and juniors. And if you could see, you know, their faces and their eyes when Jean-Yves spoke, and spoke about education and how important it was, and that to continue the education and that BNP Paribas was behind and supporting it, it was just — it’s moving.

So we hope to continue that throughout the Coachella Valley with the support of BNP Paribas.

JEAN-YVES FILLION: Maybe some of you might have saw them yesterday, in addition to what Peggy described. We take them on central court to officially receive the scholarship. And just before going onstage I told them, Well, I’m not going to speak much. Besides, I have a French accent and you better take over.

And they were, like, We’re going to have to speak in front of the stadium? One of them told me, I’m not going to make it. You’re going to make it.

And the way they spoke about their plan and program and family and giving back was just moving in front of 20,000 people.

PEGGY MICHEL: Yep.

Q. First of all, congratulations. I would like to ask Tommy a question, an on-court tennis question, if I could. You have obviously known Roger for a long, long time, on court and off, but what are the one or two things that make him so incredibly special that have allowed him to stand above in such an impressive way for so long?

TOMMY HAAS: Well, we could sit here a long time and talk about it. If it’s okay with everyone, since it is really about the partnership with BNP Paribas, I’d be happy to answer the question with you shortly after this press conference, if you would like, whatever is best.

MATT VAN TUINEN: Yeah, we can talk after.

TOMMY HAAS: So I can answer that right after.

MATT VAN TUINEN: Any other questions?

Great. Thank you all. Thank you for coming. Appreciate it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #366 at 2018-03-18 18:09:00 GMT

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