Unfortunately, the already tough topic of the Coronavirus pandemic has bee recently “replaced” by the problems that the US is experiencing after the killing of George Floyd that sparked a huge debate about racism in America and around the world.
Tennis players have been extremely active to speak up against racism posting thoughts, videos, pictures and personal experiences. Rising tennis star Felix Auger Aliassime posted a touching video talking about his experience about racism. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reveals that he used to be regularly target by racist remarks since he was a child.
As reported by FranceInfo, the former world no.5 admitted that he confronted racist remarks being the only kid in his school to have a father that has immigrated from Africa.
“Yes, I have been regularly confronted with racism, very regularly, and since my earliest childhood. However, I have a black father, a white mom, I am black and white. I was one of the only children having an immigrant father in my elementary school. I let you imagine the rest. I was taught to never put this issue forward. Honestly, I never talk about it, but I am not naive about it. This tragedy is just one too many. Inevitably it makes you want to shout louder, to shout my pain,” he said.
Then Jo-Wilfred elaborated on how everything started. At the very beginning, Tsonga was a victim of small abusive language, but later it got a bit more insulting.
“At the beginning it starts with little nicknames. Then there may be little insults, something quite latent. Afterward, I remember having been the victim of, let’s say, abusive checks, especially identity checks in the street when my friends were never checked. I was refused to get into premises, while sometimes I arrived with my friends. They said to me: “You don’t come home, but you can go back”. I saw my father who was sometimes treated with contempt or fear, it was painful for me,” he added.
Finally, Tsonga talked about having difficulties in finding his groove.
“I feel like I have built my identity from A to Z because there was no place reserved for me. It was difficult to find my place. I do not assimilate to any community or rather to all communities. Here in France I have always been considered a French black, in Africa as African white. My son is from six countries, I hope he will speak several languages and that’s how I fight racism,” he concluded.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2020
Ranked no.49, Tsonga played his last match on the 21st of January when he had to retire when playing against Alexei Popyrin in the 1st round and the scoreline was 6-75 6-2 6-1 .