Valerie Tetreault interview: “I feel like I need to work harder to be perceived the way I want to be perceived”

The first woman ever to be tournament director of the Montreal Masters, the Canadian has big plans – and big challenges – in her new tole

Valerie Tetreault Pascal Ratthe / Tennis Canada

As the only female Masters 1000 tournament director – and the first in Montreal history – Valerie Tetreault is blazing a trail for women at the top of the men’s game.

The Canadian, a former player who peaked at No 110 before becoming a commentator and then head of communications at Tennis Canada, took over the role from Eugene Lapierre in October 22. It’s been a steep learning curve for the 35-year-old but as she prepares for big changes at the National Bank Open in Montreal, she is already carving out a unique place in the sport, even if it has come much sooner than she expected.

“Definitely not this early, not in the role, at least, as a tournament director,” she told Tennis Majors in an interview. ” It was very clear to me that I wanted to pursue a role in communications. And I was dreaming of staying involved in tennis, because it was still a sport that I loved and that I was very passionate about.

“I did feel since the beginning of my second career that, everything kind of like happened at the right time for me, and so I was lucky enough to get a position right away, basically, in communications and then start getting our experience this way with the Federation.

“But it was all about timing, and Eugene (Lapierre) deciding to retire, maybe not too soon that I wasn’t ready for the role and not too late that maybe someone else could have done it, who knows. But I’m feeling quite lucky to be in this position.”

Valerie Tetreault conference
@ Pascal Ratthe/Tennis Canada

Only woman at the ATP table

Eight of the nine Masters 1000s have male tournament directors , several of them former players, including Tommy Haas, James Blake, Eric Butorac and Cedric Pioline. Tetreault soon found herself standing out simply because of who she was.

“I never really thought of myself as being the first woman to do something in life,” she said. “But I come from a sports that is quite privileged, if you compare it to other sports, in the opportunities that women have. I hope that it can stay this way, that tennis can continue to be a leader that way. And I think that goes on and off the court. If in a very humble way I can contribute to that, I would be more than happy to.

“But I have to tell you that I was quite shocked, actually, when I joined my first ATP meetings, and especially at the Masters 1000 level, I was the only woman around the table. That was a little bit shocking to me, because you know, you’re in 2023 and so you think when we talk so much about diversity and inclusion, an organisation like the ATP wouldn’t necessarily be this way. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Like many women at the top of many occupations, Tetreault says there is a feeling that she needs to prove herself more than a man would.

“I feel like you need to almost work harder to make sure that you are perceived like you want to be perceived and so that people don’t stop at just basically identifying you as the female of the group, especially if you have different opinions,” she said.

“So I think that’s part of the challenge that I will face, at least in the first phase of my journey as a tournament director. But I just need to make sure that, you know, like anything else in life, I do it the right way with my own values and that’s what’s most important.”

Valerie Tetreault, in her playing days – Zuma/Panoramic

Montreal expansion brings opportunities and challenges

Tetreault is generous in her praise for the team she has around her, but there’s no doubt that her leadership will be even more important in the next couple of years.

In 2025, Montreal is due to expand to a 96-player draw, held over a week and a half. Though that will bring obvious revenue opportunities, it also creates plenty of headaches as Montreal and Cincinnati are completed in three weeks. With 2024 being Olympic year, Montreal will be played immediately after the Games in Paris.

“I know that we will have some convincing to do making sure that the top players are there, but planning with the with the team, it feels like this year, we need to plan basically for two events at the same time, meaning 2024 but because the changes are so major and 2025, there’s a lot of things that need to happen now, or at least like the planning needs to happen now,” she said.

“We are renovating part of our indoor facility right now to make sure that we have a little bit more space to welcome the players. You will see a big difference starting this year, actually, during the tournament in terms of our sports and science areas, we’re making sure that we’re doing more for the players there.

“We’re basically creating two new levels within our indoor facility, because I think that one of our biggest issues if you compare us to other Masters 1000, we have a very small site. And so we need to be even more creative to make sure that we do everything that we can to make the players feel comfortable, while also having a site that is lively and secure for the fans, especially when you transition from one session to the other.”


The big changes, though, concern 2025 and Tetreault admits she will need to find a way to educate people and prepare them for some pretty significant changes.

“I think people are starting to be aware that our draw is going to be bigger but I think that very few people, for example, understand that this means that our final will be played on a Wednesday or Thursday night,” he said.

“Indian Wells and Miami have four weeks in the calendar to play two events; us and Cincinnati have three weeks to play two events. And so it’s gonna be it’s gonna be a little bit special, at least for the first year.

“So we’re moving away from that Sunday final, and testing some stuff starting this year. But if you compare Sunday afternoon to let’s say, Thursday night, I do think that if it’s done the right way, and communicated the right way that the audience that we can go get on TV, maybe not internationally, but at least locally, may be even bigger.”

“At the beginning, it’s all about making sure that the fans understand what this new model is like. And it’s the same thing for Cincinnati. I mean, their final is probably still going to be on a Sunday or worst case scenario on Monday, but they will start their tournament in the middle of the week.”

Tetreault took over her new role at an incredible time for Canadian tennis. Not only do they have Bianca Andreescu, who became the first Canadian ever to win a Grand Slam singles title when she won the US Open in 2020, her arrival coincided with Canada’s 2022 Davis Cup triumph and their Billie Jean King Cup win in 2023.


While once it was the big three dictating ticket sales, things appear to be changing.

“We were used to people calling for tickets and always asking when Roger (Federer) and Novak (Djokovic) and Rafa (Nadal) were playing, since a couple of years, people have been calling to know when Felix (Auger-Aliassime), Leylah (Fernandez) and Denis (Shapovalov) are playing,” she said.

“So our players are now our number one ticket sellers and so it does make a huge difference. And we see it also in just the overall interest of people in Canada for tennis. People are getting also more knowledgeable and it shows I think,  in who we are who we attract, basically, to our two Masters events.”

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