Gael Monfils did things his way, and left an indelible mark on tennis

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images) /
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The ultimate goal of professional athletes is to win at the highest level for as long as you can. In the world of tennis, the biggest barometer is how many Grand Slams you did or didn’t win. Everything else typically trickles down from there. Gael Monfils has been to exactly 2 Grand Slam semifinals in his career.

Yet, that almost comes as an afterthought as Monfils was such a unicorn in the sport that the way he played and the way he entertained, simply transcended the results of a tournament.

That’s not to say that the exhilarating Frenchman didn’t win. 526 tour-level wins and 11 career titles speak loud and clear. In addition, he has been a runner-up on a remarkable 22 occasions.

He has reached one ATP Final in every season since 2005. An incredible stat of consistency for a player that was so up and down from match to match and month to month. The way he threw his body around made staying healthy one of his biggest foes.

Gael Monfils was a unique player in so many ways

It was this carefree mindset when he stepped on the court that endeared him to fans worldwide. Whether it’s a jumping overhead smash, sliding into the splits to reach a drop shot and have his return just trickle across the tape and so much more, you knew when you turned on one of his matches you were probably going to see something you have never seen before.

Monfils turned pro in 2004 and was a part of the “Golden Generation” of French tennis along with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, and Gilles Simon.

These four men were supposed to rack up Major titles between them. As things turned out, they have all combined to win exactly 0 Grand Slams. Yet, while we do wonder what could have been, we cherish each of these players in their own way.