My secret to perfect balance

A question I often get from people is, “Gaël, how do you find the perfect balance between your career as an athlete and your personal life/projects/time?”

I’m going to share my secret with you today: 

I clearly don’t.

Case in point: This year, I spent Christmas with my dad for the first time in — wait for it — 25 years. Yeah. (Bet you feel a little better about not seeing your parents enough now…) 

When I say it like that, it seems like there’s no possible good reason for not having seen him for the holidays once in that many years. But the truth is, the reality of my life as a pro athlete, the life that I chose, required sacrifices: moving far from my parents, having to attend training sessions or matches in lieu of birthdays, holidays, family gatherings. (As far as Christmas goes, it definitely doesn’t help that my parents are separated and that my mom’s birthday just happens to fall on December 24th 😅) 

This isn’t to make excuses. Of course, there were several times I could have made time if I’d really tried. I guess like so many of us, I also fell victim to “I’ll do it tomorrow” syndrome, and  I recognize that. Instead, I guess my point is that for me at least, there’s no such thing as perfect balance. So I’ve stopped trying to find it. 

As an athlete, as in any high-intensity career, you’re constantly forced to make hard choices. Life is full of them. Rather than trying to “strike the perfect balance” at all times, I’ve instead accepted that I’ll probably always live my life in seasons of extremes: some weeks, or even months, my life has little room for anything other than tennis. Other times, my phone is off and I’m with my family, 100%. 

I wish I had some kind of genius strategy for doing it all, all at once: attending every championship, while also tucking my daughter into bed every night, while also seeing my family whenever I want… But I don’t. As long as being a pro tennisman is the life I want, I have to own and accept the sacrifices that come with it. Unfortunately, there’s no way around it. Sometimes, feeling balanced is about accepting periods of imbalance.

And in the moments I do get with my loved ones, all I can do is be as present as possible, make sure they know what they mean to me, and not take a single second of anything for granted. Like Christmas with my dad. 

Best wishes to you all for 2023.

Until next time,

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