Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was in tears Tuesday as the curtain came down on his storied career after he lost in the first round at the French Open.
The Frenchman, who announced he would retire after this year’s Roland Garros, was beaten 6-7 (6) 7-6 (4) 6-2 7-6 (0) by Norwegian Casper Ruud, bringing his 18-year professional career to an end.
The 37-year-old received a standing ovation from the Philippe Chatrier crowd as he waved goodbye to a court that he’s entertained on countless occasions.
Despite never winning a grand slam singles title, Tsonga is very much a fan favorite and claimed 18 ATP titles in as many years on tour.
He was in tears even before serving for what would be the last point of his singles career – Tsonga was due to play doubles at the French Open but that looks highly doubtful after injury severely hampered him against Ruud.
“It’s a great day for me. The day when I say goodbye to my long-time companion. I’ve never looked back but now is the time to do it,” an emotional Tsonga told the crowd.
“I want to thank all the people who helped me achieve 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 silly. I managed to be good amid the best generation of players and I’m happy about it.”
After the match, Tsonga was joined on court by his family, former coaches and other French players as the sport said its collective goodbye.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all recorded messages for Tsonga and they were played on the big screen inside the court.
“I’m sad to see him going but we are getting old,” Nadal said, as Tsonga laughed.
Tsonga reached a career high of world No. 5 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. He did, though, 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.