Jeremy Chardy: ‘I didn’t want to finish my career in hospital’
After two troubled years, Jeremy Chardy deserved to sign off in style. Having played only five matches in the previous 22 months after experiencing major health issues following a Covid vaccination and then suffering a major knee injury, the 36-year-old Frenchman had decided to call time on his playing days at Wimbledon.
Chardy, who lives in England with his British wife and their son, played the final match of his 18-year professional career on Wimbledon’s No.1 Court against Carlos Alcaraz, the eventual champion.
“I didn’t want to finish my career in hospital, so I practised really hard to try to come back and finish on the court,” Chardy told Tennishead after his first-round defeat to the Spaniard.
“I practised really hard and did a lot of rehab. I had a lot of difficult moments with my team and there wasn’t much to enjoy. But today I was happy to finish here on a big court. This country is my home.
“I’ve lived here for eight years, I’ve practised a lot at Wimbledon and my family were here today to watch me.”
Chardy’s career had taken off 18 years earlier when he won the Wimbledon boys’ title. Although he never quite reached the heights scaled by other members of a golden generation of French players headed by Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon, Chardy was a permanent member of the world’s top 100 for nine years. He reached his career-high position at No 25 in the world rankings in 2013.
“I’m proud of my career,” Chardy said. “I think I got the maximum out of myself. I haven’t got any major regrets. I was consistent, I got to the second week of all four Grand Slams. I have great memories.”
Chardy thinks that having so many fellow countrymen at the top of the game helped his own career. “It helped me to progress, to improve,” he said. “I think it’s good to have a number of other good players from your country. You all push each other. It’s been a superb period for French tennis. These guys became good friends.
“There are some good young French players coming through now: Ugo Humbert, Arthur Fils, Luca van Assche. They can push each other. And it’s good for the next generation after them to see young French players doing well.”
After health issues following his Covid vaccination in 2021, Chardy did not compete for 16 months. He finally returned in January this year, but has been suffering with a serious knee problem. He has started coaching Umbert, a fellow Frenchman, and says there is a small chance that he will continue to play some doubles, but is adamant that his singles career is over.
After all, he could hardly have wished for a better way to bow out.
“The crowd were really nice with me today,” Chardy said after his 6-0 6-2 7-5 defeat to Alcaraz. “Even when I was playing really badly and was really nervous they were trying to help me and to push me. I think the Wimbledon crowd is one of the best. At the end I felt really happy, but then I turned my head and saw my son and my wife and started to cry.”
It was the first time Chardy had played Alcaraz. “He’s an amazing player,” Chardy said. “He takes the ball early and he can do everything really well. He can defend, he has good hands, he can play fast. It was nice to play against the world No 1.
“Now I understand why he is world No 1. I think he’s really good for tennis. He’s a nice player to watch and he’s a really nice guy off the court too.”
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