Jo-Wilfried Tsonga opens up on why retiring from tennis felt like 'small death'

2008 Australian Open runner-up Tsonga retired from pro tennis in 2022.

by Dzevad Mesic
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga opens up on why retiring from tennis felt like 'small death'
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga admits retiring from pro tennis wasn't something easy or something he was prepared for as the former French tennis star described walking away from from tennis as "a small death." 

Tsonga, who will be turning 39 next month, spent 18 seasons on the Tour before putting an end to his career nearly two years ago at the 2022 French Open. After struggling with injuries and clearly losing a step in his last couple of pro seasons, Tsonga decided to retire in the spring of 2022 after taking part at the Monte Carlo Masters and a couple of French tournaments. 

Now nearly two years later, Tsonga is well-adjusted to post-tennis life but that wasn't the case when he initially retired. 

"For us, it's like a divorce. Emotionally, you put all your energy, your heart, your life into this thing. And now, we're asking you to quit. It is complicated to prepare for it. It's like a small death," Tsonga told L'Equipe.

Tsonga made a good career for himself and enjoyed his journey

In 2008 January, a 22-year-old Tsonga made his first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open. That year, Tsonga upset Rafael Nadal in the semifinal but fell short of becoming a Grand Slam champion at Melbourne Park after losing to Novak Djokovic in the final. 

At that moment, Tsonga was tipped by many to have a very bright future. For the next decade, Tsonga was widely regarded as one of the best players in the game. While Tsonga never managed to make a Grand Slam final again, he won 18 titles and was ranked as high as No. 5 in the world.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga© Getty Images Sport - Ronald Martinez

A couple of months after retiring, Tsonga revealed he was happy with his career and accomplishments after everything was said and done.

"All the journey was nice and good to live, even the difficult moments. I can't say one day is better than another. The more important was to live this with people around me and be able to share the happiness and the sadness," Tsonga said.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Australian Open