Words Jaccaidi Dyer
He’s defeated current and former World No.1s Nadal and Federer, won the hearts of Wimbledon crowds and revived French tennis hopes. It’s time to get to know French-Congolese tennis ace Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
He may have just lost out on a place in the Wimbledon finals to Serbian Novak Djokovic, but Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has won the world’s attention – and admiration. The French-Congolese tennis ace has been getting sports journos and solemn crowds in a tizzy, as much for his impassioned celebrations as his impeccable Wimbledon form. Here's what may have not known about the young star:
Tsgona’s French fans may not know that they’re sharing him with his large Congolese following, as the French star’s father, Didier Tsonga, hails from the Congo.
Last year, Tsonga visited the Congo to meet his grandfather for the first time and discovered the source of his imposing on-court form. "In France we are very quiet,” he noted, “but there everybody's like, ‘Wooahahah!’ And that is why I was quiet outside, but on the court I am like a lion."
They say the best time to spot and start training a tennis star is when they’re young. But unlike the likes of Nadal (who was already training for four hours a day at the age of 13), Tsonga took a much more relaxed view, choosing instead to train when the mood took him – a recipe that he maintains has stopped him from burning out like so many of his peers.
In theory, a tennis player is like an F1 player; they play and then spend hours studying the game. But Tsonga is anything but theoretically conventional, in fact the mere idea of watching tennis is a bit perplexing to him, according to a 2009 interview with the UK's Guardian. When asked would he watch the game if he were not a player, he replied, “No. I like to play, but I have other things I'd prefer to do with my time". Oh la la!
So what pressing matters are filling the tennis stars time? Well… fish. Tsonga has stated that fishing is indeed his favourite hobby. Wonder if he’s heard the joke about why fish don’t play tennis?...
Tsonga bears an uncanny resemblance to none other than the great Muhammad Ali, so much so that he is affectionately nicknamed Ali by fans – not only for his looks but also for his on-court vivacious prowess.
It’s this prowess that brings us to fact numéro sept. You may have noted that Tsonga has got the ladies of Wimbledon a bit hot under the collar, especially following his somewhat revealing spread in the July issue of UK Cosmopolitan.
Anyone that can jump from a number 43 world ranking to number 6 ranking in less tying attentiohan a year (8), kick the great Roger Federer (9) out of Wimbledon and obliterate world number one Rafael Nadal (10) is worth pan to.