At Roland Garros,
That is (almost). In the race for his last Roland Garros on Tuesday, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be retiring from tennis in the next few hours or days. A great page of French tennis will turn. The best tricolor player of the last fifteen years, “I” was the only one of the four musketeers to be close to a Grand Slam crown as he climbed to the 2008 Australian Open final, not to mention two semifinals to Roland. but also at Wimbledon, 18 individual titles or even a Davis Cup. All in all, very heavy and a lot of emotions necessarily in front of the last of the back of his favorite tournament.
“All these years have been a series of fantastic tournaments, as the audience has brought me to Chatrier, Suzanne Lenglen. I’m delighted with my tennis career at Roland Garros, “Tsonga said on Friday at his last pre-match conference. fireplace?
A well-marked post-race
“A tennis player is not like a musician. For example, the Rolling Stones can play concerts at the Stade de France at 75, while when a tennis player decides to leave, it’s over. You say to yourself, “I have a family, I have children, I am financially secure. I’m finishing the season and I’ll do something else. “It’s a very special moment,” said Guy Forget, who also went through it almost 30 years ago.
But for Tsonga, with 37 years on the clock, the post-race already seems well marked. If some players prefer to retire to their cocoon and cut it all off once they reach their (young) retirement age, Manceau still has no plans to recount his memories by the fire. On the contrary, Tsonga aims to pass on his experience and his high-level experience to the younger ones.
Tsonga is already passing on his experience to the little ones
For three years, Tsonga worked with his historic coach Thierry Ascione to develop the All In Academy. A multi-million euro pharaonic project spread over three training centers (Paris, Villeneuve-Loubet and Lyon in 2023). A huge 100% private structure, a kind of American-style country club, which aims to form the stars of tomorrow through tennis, of course, but also from the studios. All under the cover of the experience of the best French player of his generation.
“Through the academy he has set up, I will spend time trying to convince young people that it is possible. He will teach them what his method is, but the players will have to find the way “, explains Guy Forget. “It’s a super-rich broadcast that can save young players a lot of time,” said former Arnaud Clément, a consultant for Prime Video.
“It gave me confidence because at 15 you can get stressed out quickly”
But it is not only in his academy that Tsonga explains his method. Since 2018, the player has been the sponsor of the BNP Paribas Young Talents Team. This structure set up by the FFT allows a hundred French tennis aspirants to benefit from financial support but also from the advice of various experts to lead their career as best they can. Several times a year, the champion talks about his high-level experience and gives advice to future French tennis nuggets like 15-year-old Sarah Iliev, who has long had a poster of the player in her room. .
“It simply came to our notice then. He gave us his opinion through his experiences as a player. It made me realize that it was normal not to feel the ball every day. I regained my confidence because you can stress quickly at 15 years old. I find it very interesting that a champion like him can tell us about this. We can talk to him about everything, he is open and he does everything to help us when we ask him questions “, says the young player.
“He encourages us to rub shoulders with players like that”
“He really has a big brother role,” said Arthur Cazaux, 19, and another member of Team Jeunes Talents. “It simply came to our notice then. He guides us through our early careers and is great because Tsonga is a model player. It’s good that a player like him can pass on his experience to us. He encourages us to rub shoulders with him, he is a real plus for young people like us and we would like to continue with him. “, expects the world’s number 320 player.
That’s right, the future retiree has no plans to stop giving advice to young people. On the contrary, between his private academy and the structure supported by the FFT, the former world number 6 has made sharing his post-career priority experiences. This has not always been the case in the past with former players such as Arnaud Clément.
“I was always told that at the end of my career I would like to train, to transmit. But I have my family life and today I will not be able to leave the rhythm of 30-35 weeks away from home. But there are many ways to transmit in different degrees. For example, having an academy is another thing, it’s another management. Then there are those who don’t want to, who don’t have fiber “, admits the ex-tennis player. For a long time, few former French players came to train youngsters at the end of their careers. Neither the desire, nor the time, nor the record. With Tsonga, the French formation may finally be finding what has long been lacking: transmission.