Say what? Top quotes of RG2022

 - Chris Oddo

The stars here in Paris rocked the mic over the fortnight gone by

Coco Gauff, SF, Roland-Garros 2022

The press rooms were teeming with kernels of wisdom, insight and humour in 2022.

Here we look back on a fortnight’s worth of notable quotes from the 126th staging of Roland-Garros.

"As I said couple of times in the past... we achieved our dreams. Me, Roger, Novak, we achieved things that probably we never expected.

"For me, what drives me to keep going is not about the competition to try to be the best or to win more Grand Slams than the others. What drives me to keep going is the passion for the game, live moments that stays inside me forever, and play in front of the best crowds in the world and the best stadiums."

14-time champion Rafael Nadal, on what drives him to compete at the highest level at the age of 36.

“Today I got to feel how it is to play you in a final. It’s not easy. I’m not the first victim, I know there have been many before… You are a true inspiration for me, for everyone who follows tennis around the world. We all hope you continue for some more time."

After Sunday's 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 loss to 14-time champion Rafael Nadal, Norway's Casper Ruud sung the praises of the legendary Spaniard.

"I was talking with my doctor end of last year for the full check of my body and he said your body’s like 25. And don’t tell my wife I’m saying this, that I might be playing another 10 years."

33-year-old Marin Cilic, a semi-finalist this year in Paris, believes he has a long career ahead of him.

“Since I was younger - I know I said this before - my dad told me I could change the world with my racquet. He didn't mean that by like just playing tennis. He meant speaking out on issues like this. The first thing my dad said to me after I got off court, I'm proud of you and I love what you wrote on the camera.”

18-year-old Coco Gauff believes there is more to life than just tennis. She made a strong statement against gun violence in America during the RG fortnight.

“I leave the court, leave the tournament with the head very high. I fight until the last ball. I fought until the last second of the match, and I'm proud of it.

“I have to take the lesson. I have to improve for the next Grand Slam or next matches. But I would say I'm not far away to reach a semi-final or be able to win a Grand Slam. Just take the lesson, let's say, in these kind of matches. I would say I have the level, I have the confidence to win a Grand Slam…”

19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz fell short in his quest to become the first teenager to win a men's singles Grand Slam title since Nadal in 2005, but the Spaniard believes he took another big step in his career.

Carlos Alcaraz, Alexander Zverev, Roland Garros 2022, quarter-final© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

“Unfortunately I didn't finish the way I want to finish, but I finish on the court, playing like I did all my career, running after the ball, it was emotional for me. And anyway, it's gonna stay a good moment in my head. Yeah, in a way I finish like I want to finish.”

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga said goodbye to tennis on his terms, and had a beautiful send-off after his first-round loss to Norway's Casper Ruud.

“I think there is no secret. I just put everything I had today on court. I left my heart on court. They pushed me through. … Even [though] I had nothing left anymore. I was just trying as well to enjoy this, because it was such a great moment on court with the fans. It was unbelievable."

Three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber was overcome with emotion after saving two match points to survive a first-round epic with Magdalena Frech of Poland on Court 6.

"Maybe I can get some of his clay-court juice."

After taking a set behind the microphone in the main press room immediately after Rafael Nadal, reporters warned Coco Gauff not to drink the Perrier, because Nadal had already slugged down half of the bottle.

“For me, I'm really happy with myself, because, like, I know the emotions that I left France last year, and I feel really like happy that I was able to play in front of fans and the feeling is much different compared to last year. So I think I'm really glad that I was able to experience that.”

Naomi Osaka didn't make a deep run in 2022, but the four-time Grand Slam champion is at peace with her performance and thoroughly enjoyed her time in Paris.

"This is me."

Brevity was the soul of wit for Italy's Camila Giorgi when asked the following question in a press conference: How would you summarise your game today, because I think you made something like 37 unforced errors?

“It may seem pretty weird but having that 35th win and kind of doing something more than Serena did, it's something special. Because I always wanted to be, I don't know, to have some kind of a record. In tennis it's pretty hard after Serena's career. So basically that really hit me, you know."

By winning the title in Paris, Iga Swiatek has surpassed Serena Williams' longest career win streak. The achievement - and Serena's incredible legacy - is clearly not lost on the 21-year-old Pole.

"I believe in myself but I think even last year I was too focused on trying to fulfil other people’s expectations. I think you should just enjoy life.

"No matter how good or bad my career is I think I’m a great person so I think that's a message for all the young players out there that your results - even in life in general - or your job or how much money you make doesn’t define you as a person. So just know that if you love yourself, who cares what anyone else thinks."

American Coco Gauff dished out a healthy portion of wisdom after reaching the semi-finals in Paris, while being interviewed by Mats Wilander on Court Philippe-Chatrier

“I have to really work to get things in life. Things don't come easy. I refuse to give up. That's simply how it works with me."

Though he was not able to match his runner-up performance from 2021 in Paris, Stefanos Tsitsipas was able to engineer a comeback from two sets down in the opening round. He has now won three of the last four matches in which he has found himself two sets down at the Grand Slams.

“When I was at school, when my mother would bring me to school, I could see every day the Roland-Garros stadium. It was a dream for me to play there once. I played there, and I actually won, so it's wonderful. Today it's a dream come true in front of a beautiful crowd.”

Boulogne-Billancourt resident Diane Parry has been dreaming about winning matches at Roland-Garros ever since she was a young child. This year she made a dream come true by upsetting defending champion Barbora Krejcikova in the first round for her first top-10 win.

Diane Parry, Roland Garros 2019, first round© Julien Crosnier/FFT

"I was imitating a lot of things, and I even did stupid things, but I was sleeping with his tank top of Roland. I was a kid, not like I was 14 or 15-years-old. I don't even remember how old I was..."

France's Corentin Moutet used to go to bed wearing a Rafael Nadal tank-top when he was a kid. Now grown, the 23-year-old world No.138 had the privilege of facing the legendary Spaniard in the second round at Roland-Garros.

“Obviously it's a great disappointment to lose in a Grand Slam, but it's the reality of my life now. I knew before the match that I needed to work a lot - to work physically, to work on my tennis. This is the mirror of where I am now. You have to go through times like this with bad matches, with bad first rounds in a Grand Slam because I need to play a few matches to renew the feelings you look for in a match.”

2015 champion Stan Wawrinka didn't manage to win a match this year in Paris, but the 37-year-old is intent on rediscovering his best tennis before he calls it a career.

“It was a crazy match, an unexpected win. I was more scared to be ridiculous today than hoping I would win this match.”

In his last Roland-Garros appearance, 37-year-old Gilles Simon had zero expectations. The former world No.6 admitted his primary concern was not embarrassing himself. He shouldn't have been so modest - he played magically and reached the third round.

Gilles Simon, 3e tour, Roland-Garros 2022©Jean-Charles Caslot / FFT

“I have to say I think we are very lucky at this moment that all of the Grand Slams are really picking up wheelchair tennis. Where it's now a really big thing and really special, I hope that it just becomes normal. Like, ‘Oh, yeah, it's first the wheelchair tennis, then it's Rafael Nadal. Maybe it never will, but I think the way we are moving at the moment, I think it's a really nice time to be a wheelchair tennis player."

Now a 14-time Grand Slam champion, Diede De Groot was moved by playing the women's wheelchair singles final on Court Philippe-Chatrier. She believes it was an important moment for wheelchair players all over the world.

"I always dream about this when I was a kid. My family, my dad used to take us to tournaments as spectators... I never thought I could have a chance to be here saying I'm a Grand Slam champion. But as everyone said, like when you work for your dreams, the dreams come true. Now I'm basically living this right now, and I'm super happy."

El Salvador's Marcelo Arevelo, who became Central America's first Grand Slam champion on Friday when he won the men's doubles title with Jean-Julien Rojer.

"Something that's a bit funny when he plays, when the announcer does the intro and he goes and of course tells all the times he has won the tournament, it never stops, it seems like. That takes like half a minute just to say all the years."

Casper Ruud, when trying to accurately explain how intimidating it is to face Nadal in a Roland-Garros final.

"If you are not surprised when you win 14 Roland-Garros or 22 Grand Slam [titles], is because you are super arrogant. Honestly, no, I am not this kind of guy. I never even dream about achieving the things that I achieved. Honestly, no, I never considered myself that good.

"So I just honestly keep going step by step, practice by practice, and always with a clear goal to improve something. That's my mindset during all my tennis career."

Rafael Nadal, explaining how he approaches tennis - and life - after rewriting the record books yet again in Paris.