Last week, Michael Llodra announced the end of his career, at the age of 35. Blame it on a recalcitrant elbow injury that has kept him away from the courts since the US Open 2014. During a press conference, the lefty, one of the last server-volleyer of the tour, said that he was "feeling well" after "a fifteen-year long career." Fifteen years of jokes, burned jacket and good bottles of wine.
1. "You're winning too many matches this year"
March 2005. Ivan Ljubicic was preparing his third match at the Miami tournament against Vince Spadea. When he got out of the shower, he discovered his things scattered on the floor. Surprise: in his locker, a naked Mickaël Llodra! "I’m trying to capture your positive energy. You're winning too many matches this year," said the French troublemaker, while the whole dressing room was hilarious. A joke that has left some scars to the Croatian: "Now when I open my locker, I always do it very slowly."
2. Mayonnaise, tour operators and burned jacket
He says it himself: «Until I turned 18, I was ‘no limit’, very extreme. I’ve been expelled from everywhere ». Indeed, expelled by the Paris Tennis club at 12 years old, for having burned a jacket in the locker rooms. From the La Fontaine high school because he was inattentive. From the sports study program because he sneaked out. From the French youth Team for, among other things, having dipped a tomato in mayonnaise and thrown it at people. "Since childhood, he always had an erratic behaviour," said Yann, his older brother of eight years, in L'Equipe. “Younger, at Club Med, village leaders always wanted to hire him!"
3. "This tragedy has become my strength"
But life hasn’t always been made as of sunshine and pretty girls. In the same interview, his brother Yann continued: "Mika is also ultrasensitive, very emotional. At each point of a match, he turns towards us and we need to encourage him. If we have the misfortune of looking elsewhere or raise our eyes on a fault, he insults us from the court! He always needs our solidarity, our presence." When Michael talks about his family, it’s to explain the strong moments that made him a man, long before this late bloomer. Sill in l’Equipe, he mentionned the death of his mother in 2003, who died of cancer in only fifteen days. Two days later, his wife had a miscarriage. "At the same time I had to be a good husband, I had to help my father, at his worst, and I had to get over the death of my mother. Over time, this drama has become strength. I know since how precious life is, we can lose everything very quickly, we may regret not saying 'I love you' more often."
4. "We're not at the souk here"
$ 2,500. Or the amount of the fine imposed by the ATP to Michael Llodra in 2012. The reason? The French said "fucking Chinese" in French to an Asian fan of the Latvian Ernests Gulbis, guilty of being a little too noisy in the first round of the Masters 1000 in Indian Wells. "I said it in the heat of the moment" defended the accused later. But it wasn't his first incident. In 2011, at Roland Garros, he complained of sudden movements in the stands of a hostess during his match against the Belgian Steve Darcis. "We're not in the souk here, we don't sell carpets in a market," he told the Moroccan umpire Mohamed El Jennati. And to continue in his very personal defence: "Muhammad is a friend, we laugh together. I do this kind of jokes to him that since I played a tournament in Casablanca where it was really a mess."
5. "We're close to orgasm"
We could have described Michael Llodra, 35, as a good wine, became better with age. And in the last decade, the Parisian actually developed a passion for wine. A second passion? "No, my first,” he said in 2011 in an interview with iDealwine blog. “I would say that tennis is my job but wine is really my passion." An appetite transmitted by his coach, Lionel Roux, from Lyon who made him discover wines from the Rhone area. "We are first and foremost passionate: we buy wine to drink it." In 2012, with his friend and compatriot Arnaud Clement, they even opened their own wine bar in Dijon. Its name? Dr. Wine, which is an upscale bar that proposes up to 150 different wines. What about red meat? "My favourite food and wine association is just a prime rib with a powerful red. La Mouline or La Turque for example. There we are close to orgasm... "More or less powerful than the feeling of hiding naked in a locker?