Fabienne Gaston, Hugo’s mother, is never emotionally overwhelmed by her champion’s career. And that will also be the case this Saturday, May 28 in the evening (“night session”, not before 8:45 pm) during the game against the Dane Holger Rune, at the Central, for a place in the round of 16 of the Paris tournament.
Point won, standing, applause. Point lost, stand up, applause. This is Thierry the father (55 years old), a pile, his stomach tortured, beating in the drum of the washing machine, his face red, luminous or chewed, a real scoreboard. By his side, Fabienne, the same age, modest, never distant but sometimes stoic, always modest. Yesterday, during an hour of exchanges under the Central, which took fifteen years of her life, she never uttered the words stress, anxiety, fear, tension by taking them alone.
The bitten nails, the foot moving mechanically, the eyes closed in yoga mode to avoid heart satiety between two points, the little convulsive cries of suffocation as each ball flirts with the line, the gri-gri in the handbag, too little for hair . Neither at a tournament of minots, nor at a Grand Slam. Matter of nature. And self-defense: “Thierry lives it thoroughly. Me, I don’t want to be a sponge, hurt myself. I just want Hugo to win so he feels good.” And not for a few places or dollars more. Nor by existing.
A mother… just a mother
A mother, it loves, it comforts, it flatters, it protects, it soothes, it teaches, it orients like a compass and it still loves. A champion mother, it’s not necessarily more than that, but it loves at least as much. Fabienne is not a coach, nor a physiotherapist, nor a psychologist, nor an agent. She doesn’t play with him. She’s just a mom: “When I see some parents putting undue pressure and living by proxy, I understand that kids want to put the racket in their heads.”
For the Gastons, the result has never been an end in itself, a matter of life. Hugo is not constantly the center of attraction, much less the nerve center. The balance is kept while dependence, excess and appropriation have destroyed so many families in tennis (Pierce, Capriati…). Hugo’s results are not looked at bullet by bullet on the smartphone or on TV, in the middle of the day or at night, at the office or at the beach: “It stresses Thierry too much, so neither do I. But I stay busy to not thinking about it. We protect ourselves.” The trips are only hexagonal, with very rare exceptions such as “for a fifteen-day tour in Denmark when Hugo was 12, for a Wimbledon and a junior Masters in China”. Everyone gathers there.
Fusion relationship, almost chemical!
Hugo Gaston was discovered at the age of 6, upgraded and therefore guided very early by the Committee and then by the League, immediately cared for by Marc Barbier. While working at Airbus, Fabienne, like her husband, made the bags “without bananas because Hugo doesn’t eat them”, but never had the impression that her toddler was escaping her: “He was happy to leave, I was happy that he was. I let go of him, but I was limp.” However, the relationship was fusion, almost chemical: “Klein, Hugo couldn’t get rid of me. He didn’t have to hold his hand, I knew he was against me.”
Their ritual has loosened, not their ties: “If he doesn’t call me, I don’t call him. But when I see ‘mama’, just ‘mama’ on a text, I know he needs me. And there…”
Tennis has never been more popular at the table, even though Fabienne, referee, practices in his spare time (30 at best) while Thierry is president of the club in Fonsorbes. Also a way to respect the place of older brother Anthony (29), also at Airbus after being a linesman from Roland-Garros to Miami: “They have a lot of difference, that helped.”
Hugo cut the cord at age 11 and asked to go to the Pôle France de Poitiers without having received a federal proposal. The parents do everything for it, with success. But Fabienne suffers. Perhaps for the only time: “When Hugo was in the League, he also went to university in Balma. I made the long journey with him. It was our moment. When I no longer had him, there was a void. I was a bit lost.”
When Hugo was not taken to the Roland-Garros training center, after Insep, because of his size without a federal leader daring to tell him clearly, it was he who suffered: “It is perhaps the only time I have seen Hugo in tears about tennis. He really cares about me in that regard.”
“Sometimes I feel things; and against Rune, this Saturday night, I feel good Hugo”
There are many joys on the track, the ones that really get into the family atmosphere are rarer: “When Hugo won the Youth Olympics in 2018, as a standard-bearer, in a huge stadium, against an Argentinian, in Argentina, we were very proud. “That felt at Bercy last November after the success at Alcaraz, also the mother upset. Double title: “The enthusiasm and the shivers of the room, all that for my child. So fantastic. And then I felt pity for poor Carlos, younger than Hugo. I imagined how Hugo would have reacted to such a cruel scenario. I hope I never have to go through it. Because there, as a mother…”
Intuition can take a beating. The waves for this evening seem positive: “Sometimes I feel things. And this time, Hugo, I feel it.” By beating Holger Rune (19, 40e), Hugo Gaston would have the chance to offer a beautiful gift for Mother’s Day. “Oh no, it’s Sunday, not Saturday”, Fabienne snapped. compartmentalize. Still. A shield.