Melbourne Cup winner Michelle Payne’s boast about having a brush with royalty has proved too much for French tennis great Henri Leconte.
Payne and Leconte shared a Q&A at the Australian Open on Tuesday night in the Emirates suite, touching on life after winning.
The jockey told the small gathering her life had “changed in every way” since her historic victory.
“It’s really hard to go back into the routine of being a jockey like I was because it was so full on every day, every morning,” she said.
But post-Cup commitments mean she’s been racing one or twice a week and not able to attend track work.
“At times I’ve found it hard to wrap my head around and deal with it because you don’t prepare for what’s to come after winning the Melbourne Cup, because you just dream of it and you don’t think it’s actually going to happen,” she said.
“It’s obviously been a lot different but I’ve experienced some amazing things that would never have happened.
“I’ve got to meet Prince Charles and Camilla and Roger Federer.”
But the fact proved a little to much for Leconte, who jokingly walked away, adding: “Thank you for coming,” to laughs from the crowd.
Regaining seriousness, the veteran player added: “When you won something by yourself it’s quite extraordinary. Of course my life changed.”
However he said winning was fleeting.
“In sports, even if you have everything, you can lose everything,” he said. “That’s the key also in tennis.”
You also had to love what you do in order to be successful, he said.
“If you read Andre Agassi’s book, he said he never loved to play tennis. This is bulls***. You have to love to play tennis. You have to love what you do.
“If you don’t love what you do .. you’re not going to go further.”
He conceded the game is getting more professional.
“But the only thing you have to understand is it’s still a game,” he added.
“(Passion) brings you to the top level.
“That’s the only thing that now we’re getting more and more complicated.”