Europe 1 Studio 18:00, 30 May 2023PODCAST - Yannick Noah grew up between France and Cameroon. Born in Sedan, he flew with his family to Yaoundé at the age of two. It is therefore on the land of his ancestors in Africa that the last French winner of the Roland-Garros tournament grew up. But when it came time for the holidays at the time, the Noah family returned to the Ardennes, and Yannick Noah rediscovered the region where he was born. In the podcast "Yannick Noah, between you and me", the champion confides to the microphone of Jacques Vendroux his precious memories.
"My daddy is black, my mom is white." Yannick Noah has his roots in Sedan in France, where he was born. And in Etoudi, the Cameroonian village where he grew up and of which he is now the leader in Africa. In the podcast "Yannick Noah, between you and me", the French champion says: "I remember the fact that all of a sudden, we moved here [Editor's note: to Cameroon] in the bush. Dad didn't want to come because then and even now, when you're African, the goal is to go to Europe, or abroad, to be able to make your life and send money to the family..."
Zacharie Noah, the father of the former tennis player, was 26 years old when he ended his professional football career after serious injuries, and decided to take his family to his native Cameroon. For the Noahs, it's a radical life change. But during the school holidays, the family goes back to the Ardennes, to Aiglemont more precisely, in the suburbs of Charleville-Mézières.
At the time, Zacharie Noah was a true figure of Sedanese sport. He was part of the team that won the France Cup in 1961. And it was in this city that he crossed paths for the first time with Marie-Claire Perrier, his future wife. "It was thanks to football that Dad met Mom," recalls Yannick Noah. When the Noah family returned for the holidays in Sedan in those years, "mom was at home," says Yannick Noah, who also discovers at that time "the affection that the Sedanese had for dad".
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With his sisters, every summer, Yannick Noah discovers the Ardennes through his child's eyes. He also says: "We were coming from Cameroon, where it's hot all the time, and all of a sudden it was cold and we had to put on a jacket... There were wild strawberries, gooseberries. We made fern huts. For us, it was a party."
After travelling all over the world, Yannick Noah still speaks today of his native Ardennes with great emotion. "I never thought to myself in my childhood, 'This is great.' Over time, I tell myself that there are plenty of unknown places like this in France. The Ardennes, whether it's the French Ardennes or the Belgian Ardennes, it's wonderful." And he adds with humor, at the microphone of the journalist Jacques Vendroux: "And I'm not talking about the beer of La Meuse, which I love, it's the best in the world..."
To listen in full to Yannick Noah's intimate and rare account of the highlights of his life, find the podcast "Yannick Noah, entre vous et moi" on your favorite listening platform.
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