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May 20, 2022

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Paris, France

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. A simple question, really. The best and the worst moments over the years at Roland Garros.

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: It's really difficult for me to talk about my best moment, because I think it's global (smiling) over the years. It's been just amazing the way the crowd welcome me on the Philippe Chatrier or the Suzanne Lenglen.

Yeah, I'm just very happy the way I live my tennis life, you know, in Roland Garros was so nice.

Q. Obviously I'm going to have to ask about the disappointments over the years, as well.

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: You know, when I was, I would say, a player, it was very disappointed to lose, but now I'm close to the last one. You know, I just feel lucky, because I was able to live this life, to live this moment. That's it.

Q. You mentioned the life of a tennis player. Now Sebastian Korda is here, his dad was a very good tennis player. Your children are very young. Would you enforce them, not enforce, but would you encourage them to become tennis players as well?


Q. Your children.

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: Ah, my children. Okay.

I mean, if they want to. For me, it's not an obligation. They can do what they want. The most important for them it's to live everything full and just be happy. That's the most important for me.

I mean, I know it's an answer really common, but it's like this really, I think. Yeah.

Q. You just said that it's tough for you to pick just one best match or best memory in Roland Garros. But specifically, I'm Japanese so I clearly remember the match between you and Kei, 2015 final set, long match. Can you recall something about that match, talk a little bit?

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: It was a special match. First because I played against Kei, and he's a very good player. So it was a huge match.

I remember we stopped because of an accident in the stadium. The scenario of the match was really special also. So of course it's part of my best memories here in Roland Garros. Yeah, I didn't see him since a while, but I hope he's going better and better.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. How do you feel?

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: I feel relieved, because it's the last tournament, because both my mind and my body have told me that it's time to stop. I'm also very excited, because I have always wanted and liked to play this tournament. It's always a highlight in my career.

I want to go to the court to play a very consistent player, a very good player. I know it will be a tough match, but I'm delighted to be able to have a match like this.

I know it will be fun no matter what.

Q. Does it change something in your mind when you know that you're going to end your career at the end of this year, you might be playing the last matches of your career. Does it change something?

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: Obviously, yes. The end of my career is becoming more tangible. When I announced it, I felt some other things would happen, but I'm about to play my last matches. If I do not win, well, it will be the last.

So this tournament will not be any kind of tournament. It will be different, but I still rejoice in going to the court, in being here. Everybody has a kind word to me, so I enjoy it.

Q. You were not a consummate dirt-baller, but you were a real, genuine French Open player. For instance, I remember in 2015 you did not have a hot streak on the clay court season, yet you played well in Roland Garros.

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: It's true. I was not a consummate dirt-baller. I have not achieved the best result throughout these years, but the French Open was special. The conditions were special. The ball at the time was special. My relationship with the public was special.

Everything I did was different as opposed to the other tournaments. When I arrived here, I always felt a lot of self-confidence, despite my results early on.

Q. Isn't it hard to decide on the moment, the venue? Some players need to end their career because of an injury and when they do not have the choice. Was it something you really want to exercise control of?

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: Yes. What I really wanted to have control over was the why. I didn't want my body to be the decision-making factor. I wanted to make sure that I could enjoy every moment of the last tournament, to be aware that it would be the last tournament.

I have to say it's quite special. Knowing that it's the last tournament gives it a special taste. I always use the word "special." I'm sorry. It's not a wonderful feeling. I'm not saying it's a bad feeling, either.

But I'm sure that this tournament will be full of emotions, and it will happen the way it will happen. We'll see.

Q. We feel some relief coming from you that you will enjoy every match. How do you feel physically and mentally ahead of this first match?

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: If I were to speak about the last two years, I would say that now is the time when I feel the best. I haven't had a lot of matches under my belt. I haven't had a lot of wins. So it's hard for me to assess myself to say where I stand.

Often it is at the French Open that I have the best tennis. I hope that it will be the case once again. But again, I still have some uncertainties. I don't try to plan ahead. I will try to give all I have. If I have a win, then I will enjoy it. I will enjoy going back to the court. If such is not the case, then it will be my last match, and I would say that I have really enjoyed it so far.

Q. This morning Gilles Simon opened the conference day, and he talked about you. Gilles Simon is ending his career, as well. Do you have some words to say about him? He was saying Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has a lot of plans and he's leaving at the right time. What do you think about Gilles Simon?

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: It's funny, because I was talking with him just a few minutes ago. Gilles Simon is my buddy. He's my friend.

He's part of my tennis history. We have shared so many important events together. We trained at the same centers. There was just a small partition that separated us. We went to school together. We practiced tennis together. We had a lot of laughs together.

We would talk about our first girlfriends together. We would actually, yes, have a lot of chats. It's a beautiful story. When we were younger, when we were 10, 11 years old, we were friends. We were young boys about to grow up. Then we actually reached all the milestones together. We managed to play in the French national team together, and not a lot of players share that. With Richard, with others, we have known each other since we were 11 years old, 12 years old. We grew up together. We won together.

These are the most beautiful stories. What I will keep in mind after all this, what I will keep in mind is the relationships I had, the friendships I managed to have. Gilles Simon has made some wonderful achievements. He has always been surprising.

Gilles is older than me by a few months. He still manages to win matches. One should actually highlight that. That's what I could say about him.

Q. You have lived here, as well, when you were young. Will you behave yourself like every year or not? Will you play on the central court? Will you play a night session or day session? Since you are the boss you can say whatever you want.

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: I wish I were, but I'm not. I would love to decide everything that concerns me. But to answer to your question, I will behave in a normal way. I will focus on my tournament. I will try not to have a stroll around the stadium. We have obligations. We have to fulfill our role. I have to do what I have to do as any kind of tennis player.

I will try to be focused on court, and once it's over, I can walk around the stadium because it's brand new and I haven't managed to see some of the premises. In the conference room, for instance, so many things have changed. So I can certainly seize the opportunity to enjoy myself and walk around.

Q. (Question off microphone.)

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: We are waiting. I don't know if I'm going to play on Monday or Tuesday. I guess it's highly likely that it will be on the Philippe Chatrier or Suzanne Lenglen. It is possible. But it could be on one channel or another. I would rather be broadcast on one specific channel and not another.

Honestly, I have no asks. I will certainly ask the God up there not to have any rain, not to have too heavy a court surface. Oh, I'm playing on Tuesday, okay.

Q. It might be the last or the last before the last. How did you plan ahead? Have you asked some friends to be here?

JO-WILFRIED TSONGA: Everybody wants to be here. Roland Garros is doing what they can to accommodate everyone. It's not easy. I know a lot of people.

So many people have supported me, have helped me throughout my career. If I were to make everyone and everybody happy, then I would need 300 invitations.

So we need to find the middle ground. But I really want to thank all the people that have helped me, and they understand, of course, that this is not possible.

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