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Monfils shares how UTS saved his tennis career

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Bren Gray

The latest “All on the Table” podcast by UTS has seen Gael Monfils reveal just how close he came to quitting tennis in 2022.

Speaking with Ugo Humbert and Jeremy Chardy, Monfils shared that the combination of his foot injury, his wife Elina Svitolina’s pregnancy, and an accident in the family nearly drove him to retire.

“In fact, just before I seriously injured myself, there was a very serious accident in my family, involving someone close to me. It really distressed me,” the Frenchman revealed. “At the beginning of the year, my wife announced that she was pregnant as well. There was a lot going on.”

“Then I hurt myself, badly,” Monfils continued. “I ruptured the arch of my foot.”

“That’s when I really had doubts. I said to myself: ‘this is too much.’ I told myself: ‘I’m happy with my career, I’m happy with what I’ve done. I’m 36-and-a-half, I’m going to have the most beautiful thing that’s going to happen at the end of 2022, my daughter. 

“I don’t know if in 2023, I’ll want to deal with that.”

Chardy makes a call

Despite toying with the idea of retirement, Monfils said that he shifted his mindset and began making sacrifices, and “something clicked again.”

It was at that time that Chardy called Monfils, inviting him to play UTS Los Angeles.

“You see Jim, he’s got a lot of energy. He called me, he told me about UTS, and at that moment, I was far from UTS,” explained Monfils. “I don’t even know if I’m going to play tennis again.”

“He tells me: ‘No, stop your bullshit, you’re gigantic, you’ll be back. This format is for you.”

“I asked for time. I had doubts. I told myself I was happy with my career, I was happy with what I’ve done. 36-and-a-half, I was going to have the most beautiful thing soon to happen, you know, at the end of 2022, my daughter. I didn’t know if in 2023 I would want to deal with that. 

“If you mix personal life, Elina’s pain, I thought: ‘You can’t stop like this. OK, you’re in a hole now, but you’re lucky in many aspects.’ And you see, from the moment I started telling myself I was going to make sacrifices again, seeing the big picture and something clicked.  My injured relative felt better. The prediction for my long-time absence came from 12 months to six.”

From that moment, there was no looking back. Chardy even persuaded Monfils that he could play with a one-handed backhand if he liked. Lucky that he did, because La Monf went on to thrill crowds in Los Angeles, defeating Frances “Big Foe” Tiafoe and Alexander “The Bublik Enemy” Bublik in the group stage.

In the Final Four, he was edged in sudden death by home star Taylor “The Hotshot” Fritz. Monfils would go on to compete two more times in UTS in 2023, at the Frankfurt and London events.