Aurélie Tourte, the referee of Jannik Sinner’s final

THEnflexible, to the point of don’t be afraid to push world number 1 Novak Djokovic off the court (in 2020, for throwing a ball at a linesman). Serene and balanced, even in front of a 4 and a half hour head-to-head match that had 1 billion people glued to the screen, for the final of the Australian open between Jannik Sinner and Russian challenger Medvevd.

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Who is Aurélie Tourte, the referee of the Jannik Sinner final

She is Aurelie Tourte, she is 38 years old, she is French and she is the most popular “chair judge” of the moment, the only one to work full time on the men’s circuit. We have also seen her referee other important tournaments from above, from the ATP finals in Turin to the latest Roland Garros, always with a fixed and attentive gaze.

A former tennis player, she discovered refereeing early, at 23. «I remember a match in which I finished crying and saying to myself: never again. And here’s where I am today. I don’t know if I chose to go into arbitration or if arbitration chose me... But one thing is certain: the passion and love for tennis led me to continue in this direction” he declared to the Tenup website of the French Tennis Federation.

Aurélie Tourte (Photo by Tnani Badreddine/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

«The players see the referee, they don’t see the woman»

In 2017 it was awarded with a gold badge, the highest level of officiating achieved by only ten women in the world. Since 2019 you have refereed matches on the men’s circuit. “When you start, you don’t think about being a woman in a male universe,” she said. «Women are more used to being refereed by women. For men, this is not a given. They don’t react the same way, sometimes they are more impulsive, they tell you things more easily. I would say that with men you have to earn their trust. But when the players enter the pitch, they see the referee, they don’t see the woman».

As a “gold badge” chair judge, Aurelie Tourte can sit on the high chairs at the Slams, the ATP and the WTA world tour: in total there are 34 in the world: men are 21, women 13. For 20 weeks a year is involved in tournaments: she left her nursing profession for tennis. “I tried to combine both jobs for as long as possible,” she said. “I haven’t been back to the hospital much in the last three years, but it’s still a job I love.”

«I feel a lot of pressure. And homesickness”

Some fans will remember one of his already funny moments in his career, when an iguana invaded the tournament field at the Miami Open. Or even the less pleasant ones, when he had to keep up with the more nervous players (like Medvevd).

When asked what it is the already difficult aspect of his job, replies: «The pressure, because we have to take into account that we always make the best decisions. And the passing a lot time away from home: it’s beautiful because we always travel around the world and meet people of all nationalities, but every now and then we get nostalgic.”

Last but not least: on the occasion of the finals, matches can last up to 5 hours. «I even happened to referee 2 finals on the same day. A real effort.”