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By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, September 22, 2016


DJ Bob Sinclair pumped up the beats while Serena Williams, Patrick Mouratoglou and Novak Djokovic danced the night away on the French Riviera.

Photo credit: Patrick Mouratoglou Tennis Academy

Patrick Mouratoglou marked the realization of his grand vision with a major celebration.

Mouratoglou, who has coached world No. 2 Serena Williams for the past four years, officially launched Mouratoglou Tennis Academy on the French Riviera this week.

Watch: Stars Celebrate Djokovic Foundation Gala

Serena Williams, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and French players Jeremy Chardy, Henri Leconte and Fabrice Santoro were among the 1,200 guests who turned out to show support for the project.

The official inauguration began with an afternoon press conference conducted by Mouratoglou, Williams and Djokovic, who shared their thoughts on the Academy and its aims.

Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic

Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic

It took two years to build the Academy, located in the heart of the French Riviera, in Sophia-Antipolis.

The 34-court Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, which features eight covered courts, is billed as the largest tennis academy in Europe.

In an interview with Tennis Now conducted before completion of the two-year project, Mouratoglou said building a world-class facility to develop juniors and coach professionals was the inspiration for the project.

"Since 20 years, I am coaching and running my own tennis academy. I love both," Mouratoglou told Tennis Now. "Helping Serena reach her goals and win Grand Slam is incredibly exciting for me, but I also love to develop juniors and work with my team bringing more people to loving tennis.

"I came to Nice because that was the place where all of the needs of that new Academy could be fulfilled. I had the opportunity, under the best weather conditions of France, next to a big international airport, in French Riviera, the best part of France, build the infrastructure of my dreams."

Patrick Mouratolgou, Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic

Mouratoglou expects "more than 3,000" player sto train at the Academy annually. The complex houses a school, training and fitness center, a pool, spa and hosts both elite pros and juniors.

"I want to give the opportunity to more people to reach their goals in tennis whether they want to become pros, get a scholarship in an American university, or come for a week training just to improve their skills," Mouratoglou told Tennis Now. "At Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, there are professional players like Serena and Novak Djokovic, as well as juniors from all ages and all levels, as well as people who just want to improve. All together 130 players full time."

Patrick Mouratolgou, Novak Djokovic

Dimitrov, who has trained at Mouratoglou's Academy in the past, was on hand for the grand opening ceremonies.

Grigor Dimitrov

Asked if Dimitrov can break through and eventually win a Grand Slam title, Mouratoglou said the former Wimbledon semifinalist is "close and far away at the same time from winning a Grand Slam."

Grigor Dimitrov, Henri Leconte

"He is close because his level of play is impressive, very close to the best ones," Mouratoglou told Tennis Now. "In Wimbledon 2014, he lost a close match in semis to Novak, so in a way he looked close to reaching his first Grand Slam final. But he is also far because, there are many details that make a big difference between a top player and a champion. He can make it.

"I am convinced that he can win a Grand Slam. This combination of many details, knowing better his own game and imposing it without rushing, keep on improving his serve that is great but that not secure his service games enough, etc."

Jeremy Chardy, Patrick Mouratoglou

Serena Williams, who has won nine of her 22 Grand Slam titles since she started working with Mouratoglou in 2012, took to the court with Djokovic.

The Grand Slam champions, both wearing formal attire, hit with a few Academy juniors. The day after the event, Serena traveled to Milan, Italy to support the Novak Djokovic Foundation charity gala.

Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams

Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams

The grand opening celebration climaxed with the second annual charity gala dinner to benefit the Champ Seed Foundation, which supports top junior players from all over the world who do not have the financial means to pursue a professional career.

DJ Bob Sinclar got the party started on the giant stage erected on the Mouratoglou Academy Center Court specially set up for the occasion.

Table of stars


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