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José Luis Clerc: 'In tennis there is a lot of envy'


The former tennis player tells about his rivalry with Vilas. His desire to do politics and the fight with his daughter Sofía, who is hard of hearing.

Silvina Demare

07/21/2021 6:05 AM

  • Clarí

  • Live

Updated 07/21/2021 8:00 AM

He was one of the great tennis players of the '80s.

Today, José Luis Clerc, Batata, is still linked to sports.

He has been commenting on tennis for 30 years on ESPN.

"I like to study the players, talk to their coaches, give a bonus in each transmission," he explains. In turn, the former tennis player gives clinics and teaches tennis at his school in Parque Roca.

Here, answer


twenty questions



-Why do they call you Batata?

-Because as a boy he did not have great mobility.

He was not an athlete.

He was kind of plump.

They began to say that to me at the San Fernando Club.

I couldn't get within a short shot in tennis and if I did, I would trip.

It was clumsy.

And the nickname remained.

If you eat a lot of sweet potatoes, you end up heavy.

And I was heavy to go forward.


-Why did you start playing tennis?


My old man was the foreman of the Club Laviron in Tigre.

On weekends I went to the club with him and that's how I started to play.

I was 5 or 6 years old.

Someone always raced me.

I am grateful for what the partners did at that time.

They treated me like one more being the son of a club worker.

I come from a humble family.

My old woman was a seamstress, she made dresses.


-What worries you about Argentina?

-Bringing out the pandemic, the insecurity.

I experienced a rough episode a couple of years ago.

Three people entered my house, I was with my daughter Sofía, the youngest, and a friend of hers.

They beat me a lot.


-You had Covid -19 recently, how did you experience it?

-It was hard.

I was isolated for 12 days in the department where I broadcast for ESPN.

I did not lose my sense of smell or have muscle aches, but loneliness was the most difficult.

I lost like 4 kilos.

It was lying in an armchair, with your eyes closed, without strength


A tremendous anguish.

Once recovered, I walked a block and I got tired.

I was left in the inkwell not having won the Davis Cup or Roland Garros.

Jose Luis Clerc


-Have you ever thought about being a coach of a professional tennis player?

-When I retired, some came to look for me, including Gaby's father (Sabatini).

But it was to pick up the suitcases again, to leave my family and I didn't want to.

I already had my club in La Horqueta.

I always liked teaching, being a teacher.

And what I enjoy the most is the social inclusion work we do at school.

Boys with different abilities come and there is even tennis for the blind. That is something very nice, which fills the soul.


-What advice would you give to Nadia Podoroska, the best Argentine tennis player?

-For me, Nadia has to improve her character, attack more.

But it has improved a lot.

He has a very good forehand.

I usually stay in contact with his two coaches.


-Any mania?

-Being perfectionist.


-What pending accounts did you have at the sports level?

-Two, very marked: one, not having won the Davis Cup.

That final we played with Guillermo (Vilas) in Cincinnati and we lost.

And win Roland Garros.

Those are the things that remained in my inkwell and will remain there until the day I die.

José Luis Clerc, when he was a professional tennis player.

He won 25 titles.


-Naomi Osaka, the 2 in the world, stopped competing due to psychological problems, because she could not face the press, did something similar happen to you



I remember that I could not play the Grand Slam tournaments well.

I was distracted and could not concentrate because of the number of people, because there were many players ... As a result of that I started with yoga, with breathing exercises and with visualizations.

They made me visualize the field and my rival.


-If you could change something about your way of being, what would it be?

-Be less sensitive, because everything comes to me and it hurts.


- Any cabal?

-I always played with my two Argentine wristbands.

And I got to play for six months with a broken racket, with a nail in the grip.


-Did you ever think about doing politics?


Someday I would like to be Secretary of Sports for the Nation or the province.

Because I know what the athlete needs, the boys.

Because sport educates, teaches, socializes, corrects and includes.

Of course, surrounded by good and healthy people.

In tennis there is a lot of envy.

And a lot of pressure from some parents who want their children to win and save themselves at their expense.

I never felt Guillermo as a rival.

You have to tell the truth: Guillermo was 10 times better than me.

He was an idol.

Sweet potato, nothing more than a familiar guy. 

Jose Luis Clerc


-You retired at 27, why so young?

-Because I started very young.

At 14 I met my coach, who was a father, friend, psychologist, coach: Pato Rodríguez.

At 17, he was already 12 in the world.

A lot of pressure.

I was a young dad.

At 27 he already had two children.

It was hard for me to retire, it didn't happen overnight.

I tried to do my best.

Also, there was the famous Vilas-Clerc, Clerc-Vilas dispute.

I never felt Guillermo as a rival.

You have to tell the truth: Guillermo was ten times better than me.

He was an idol;

Sweet potato, nothing more than a familiar guy.

It was very difficult for people to see someone else beat their idol.

I was fortunate to live my professional time with him.

I love Guillermo very much, I love him.

He was very good with my family.

After that, all the other things were erased.


-How would you define yourself?

-I'm a guy with character, with anxiety.

Tennis educated me, it was my ground wire.

Today, ESPN broadcasts are.

When I don't have any, I call and ask for them.

They tell me: "Rest, Sweet Potato."

And I do not want.

I am addicted to work



-A place in the world?


I have a thing for the French.

My first trip to Europe, at 16 years old, was to France.

I have many friends there.

Clerc, along with Guillermo Vilas, in the 1980 Davis Cup.


-Are you still playing tennis?


I have a problem with my left eye.

Due to stress I had a retinal detachment.

And I don't see very well from that eye.

I have improved, but not enough.

I give many clinics and I teach.


-A defect?

-Being too good and sensitive.


-Do you eat sweet potato?

-Of course, I love it.


-A dream?

-May my daughter Sofia be happy.

She is 10 years old and has a hearing loss, implanted.

He has an extraordinary mother, my wife, who is also a doctor, who has helped her progress.

And I dream that society does not look at these guys as different.

That is the daily struggle.

She goes to an inclusive school, but beyond that, it is good for the adult to teach his son that this is a normal boy


I could not enjoy my first two children.

To the third, until there just.

And I have taken advantage of Sofi much more.

I enjoy it.

She is a fighter for life.

I'm happy that he came into our life because he changed it so much for us.


-Do you think there is a marked destination?


, we have the day and time to go and we know what we're coming for


I think life is putting obstacles on you to see if you jump them or pass them by the side.

I have lived many wild things, but one comes to learn.

And when you're ready, the top one tells you:

"Lets go, man


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Source: clarin

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