Rose did not understand everything that was going on but she was well wedged in the arms of her grandmother, last Thursday, at the top of the bleachers of court 14, when dad approached the match point which was going to qualify him for the big picture of this Roland-Garros, where he has since taken a turn and is waiting to challenge Cameron Norrie on Wednesday.

Having fallen very low morally in recent months, Lucas Pouille (29) recently said that one evening, it was when he received a photo of his family on his smartphone that he decided it was time to get back to life. ‘place. A few months ago, on the sidelines of the Rolex Paris Masters, the former world number 10 told us how fatherhood had changed his life.

“What has changed with the birth of your daughter?
It’s a difficult part of a tennis player’s life. Every time we close the door and leave and the family isn’t with us, those are tough times. I had tried to do everything so that she could travel with me. At first, with the Covid, it was a bit complicated, we were only allowed two people so it was my trainer and my physical trainer.

It’s quite special to be a father and to have to leave so much, to also leave a lot of tasks to the mother, who is very often alone because we are absent, we work. It’s not easy but it’s still the most beautiful thing that’s happened to me in my life.

Did that already play a role in your motivation to return to the field two and a half years ago?
No, because when I took over, I was very motivated. It was the injuries, the physical problems that hurt me. When everything is going well, you have a lot of people behind you, everything is fine, everything is fine and, when you start not playing anymore because of injuries, when the ranking drops, it’s a little more complicated. That’s what demoralized me.

“I told myself that I had been an “asshole” to have left so early”

You had played a tournament in Quimper, at the end of January 2021, a few days after the birth of Rose. We don’t wonder what we are doing on the circuit at that time?
Looking back, I thought to myself that I had been an “asshole”, to put it vulgarly, to have left so early. Afterwards, there are always those who push you to play, who tell you that you have to resume as soon as possible. You too want to come back because it’s been two years since you played (Pouille had an almost white 2020 season and was back in Quimper), you see the others in Australia, the feelings are multiple.

My daughter was born on Wednesday, we leave the maternity ward on Saturday morning and I take the road to Quimper… It was not easy the first hours, the first days… When we talk about the sacrifices of a player tennis, that’s part of it. The greatest players have the chance to travel with people, with nannies, a staff. At our level, I had the chance to do it too. But financially it has a cost, you have to assume it, so it’s quite special to live.

How, concretely, do we organize ourselves when we travel on the circuit with a baby?
We took two rooms. It’s a balance to have, you don’t sleep with your wife anymore because the baby must not wake you up at night, otherwise you risk being tired, injuring yourself, not performing the next day. It’s a whole balance to find. At the end of the day, I only expected one thing, it was to take her in my arms and spend time with her. But the day is long and a baby is not waiting for you.

How did your partner experience all of this on her side?
For her, it is extremely difficult. It’s the dark side, a little hidden, that nobody knows and it’s monumental. When you have the chance like me to be well surrounded with Clémence, you have to realize it because it’s a lot of sacrifices, a lot of expectations. When I make my career, she puts hers on hold. She has to take care of the baby, do the nights. It’s hard to help him. But it is a sharing. We’ve been together since we were 16 and we’ve built this career together. »