Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray all paid tribute to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga during an emotional farewell at the French Open.
Tsonga is retiring from tennis after his four-set defeat to eighth seed Casper Ruud at the French Open.
The 37-year-old, a former world No. 5 who won 467 tour-level matches, was in tears as he served to stay in the match.
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He was given an incredible ovation by the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier and was greeted on court by his former France Davis Cup team-mates Gilles Simon, Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils.
There was also a tribute video played with messages from some of the greats of the game.
Federer said: “Hi Jo, I wanted to congratulate you on an amazing career and it was a pleasure to share the court with and play against you, even to lose against you!
“We had some great battles; enjoy the moment in Paris with all your friends and family, in front of all your adoring spectators.”
Djokovic added: “Jo is one of the most charismatic tennis players ever to play the game. I’ve was very happy to share the court with him many times.
“We get along well and he’s a really nice guy. He brought a lot of positive attention and popularity to our sport not just because of his dynamic game style, but also his charisma and his personality, so it’s a big loss for professional men’s tennis to have him retire. I wish him all the best, and he definitely should be happy about his career and his achievements. He’s made his mark and his legacy in our sport.”
Tsonga’s career highlights include reaching the 2008 Australian Open final and the semi-finals of the French Open in 2013 and 2015. He also made the last four at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2012, and won 18 career titles.
“Hey Jo, I just wanted to send you a message to wish you a happy retirement and to congratulate you on an amazing career,” said Murray, who was involved in some memorable matches with Tsonga at Wimbledon.
“You’ve achieved so much, with so many highlights. You’ve been a great ambassador for the sport; I’ve always loved watching you play and competing against you, and you’ll be sorely missed. All the best, mate.”
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Nadal, who Tsonga beat in the 2008 Australian Open semi-finals, said: “He is very charismatic. I know him since we were kids; he is a good guy and I think he brings a lot of positive things to our sport so I’m sad to see him going but we are getting old so it’s going to happen for everyone.”
Tsonga has struggled with injuries for the last couple of years and was 1-8 over the 2021 season.
This year he has won just two matches, both coming in his home country of France.
Eurosport's Mats Wilander said Tsonga's farewell was "one of the most emotional goodbyes" he has ever seen.
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“I didn’t get goosebumps, I got teary eyes. It’s amazing how this crowd just embraces someone like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and it’s incredible to me how popular he was, playing in the most difficult generation of all time. He deserves all the credit, amazing scenes.”
Two-time French Open finalist Alex Corretja added: “It might be because I’m getting older but I think I was crying a little bit!
"The whole crowd were enjoying it so much; they actually put the roof on which made it even more special. There’s one very important thing: you can be a good tennis player, you can play a lot of tournaments, but amongst all, you have to be a nice person. And that’s the case with Tsonga, because every time you see him, he’s laughing and smiling. At the end of the day, that’s what matters because people remember your titles, yes, but if you’re a great person, then that’s the most important thing in my opinion.”
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