Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was in tears on Tuesday when the curtain fell on his storied career after losing in the first round of the French Open.
The Frenchman, who announced his retirement after this year’s Roland Garros, was defeated by Norwegian Casper Ruud 6-7 (6) 7-6 (4) 6-2 7-6 (0). an end.
The 37-year-old received a standing ovation from the audience from Philippe Chatrier as he said goodbye to a court he has entertained countless times.
Despite never having won a grand slam title, Tsonga is a firm fan favorite, taking 18 ATP titles in as many years on tour.
He was in tears even before serving on what would be the final point of his singles career – Tsonga would play doubles at the French Open, but that seems highly questionable after an injury severely hampered him against Ruud.
“It’s a great day for me. The day I say goodbye to my faithful companion. I’ve never looked back, but now is the time to do it,” an emotional Tsonga told the audience.
“I want to thank all the people who have helped me realize my dream of becoming a professional tennis player.
“Thanks to the French Tennis Federation and all my coaches who supported me even when I was extremely stupid. I’ve managed to be good among the best generation of players and I’m happy about that.”
After the game, Tsonga was joined on the field by his family, former coaches and other French players as the sport collectively parted ways.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all recorded messages for Tsonga and they were played on the big screen in court.
“I’m sorry he’s going, but we’re getting old,” Nadal said as Tsonga laughed.
Tsonga peaked in his career as No. 5 in the world in 2012, but has suffered a series of injuries in recent years.
His best Grand Slam result came at the Australian Open in 2008, when he lost to Djokovic in the final. However, he did help France win the Davis Cup in 2017.
“You have been an inspiration to me and many others,” said an emotional Ruud after beating Tsonga for the last time.