Joakim Noah, like his father, is now a winner on the clay at Roland Garros.
The former Chicago Bulls center teamed with Gabby Williams of the WNBA’s Seattle Storm to beat former Detroit Pistons guard Richard Hamilton and Spanish tennis player David Ferrer in a basketball game on the famed clay of Court Philippe-Chatrier on Wednesday night.
Noah and Williams won in three “sets” — the first two were to six points, the final set to three points.
“I’d never played basketball here, for sure,” Noah said after the game, part of the lead-up events for Thursday’s game between the Bulls and Pistons in Paris. “I’ve hit some tennis balls a few times on this court. It’s a really special place.”
Noah’s father, Yannick Noah, was the French Open men’s champion in 1983. Joakim Noah was born in 1985, won two NCAA titles at Florida and was a two-time All-Star in a career that spanned 13 seasons — mostly with the Bulls.
For the record, Joakim Noah says he’s not exactly good at tennis. But it was a special moment to be on the clay where his father once reigned.
“Every time I see the pictures and the videos I know it’s a part of my history,” Noah said. “And I’m really proud of it. I know how hard it was and how much sacrifice went into being able to play at this level and to have that special moment of winning.”
The game, a promotional event for Wilson Sporting Goods, was 2-on-2 on half a tennis court, using the baselines and sidelines as out-of-bounds.