Ronnie Adams

October 30, 2019

October 30, 2019 “I am almost 50 years old and far from an athlete. Growing up I was slow and weak. Playing organized sports was never a serious option as I just could never keep up. I grew up in a small South Louisiana town that didn’t even have a red light. Baseball was big in those days and most of my friends played. I tried early on but it didn’t take long to realize that I needed another hobby. After age 15 I never played a sport again. The notion would come up now and again but it didn’t take long after picking up a glove or volley ball that I knew sports just wasn’t for me. Then in May of 2014 something horrific happened. I was working on a Master’s Degree in Public Health at LSU when one morning during class my phone started blowing up. My mother had been found in her home, murdered. There was nearly a year long investigation before a suspect was finally arrested and eventually convicted and sent to prison. This was a dark time in my life. I had twins under the age of two and I was trying to complete my (more…)

Melanie Oudin

October 27, 2019

October 27, 2019 “I started thinking about retirement around January 2017. It started with a torn muscle in my hand but that was only the beginning. I had gotten Mono and a horrible hamstring injury that sadly turned into hamstring tendinitis. I’ve done everything right to try and heal but it seemed like it wasn’t improving. I knew my body my would never be the same again. With continuous work I could get to a certain level but I needed my absolute best to get back to where I was. After extended time fighting back, I could tell 100% was impossible. It was mentally and physically exhausting and more draining than I could’ve imagine. Even though it was tough to admit, I could tell it was the right decision. The first truly damaging injury started in 2012, the end of the year, when I was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a rare muscle condition that releases toxins into your bloodstream. It then causes your organs to start failing. In 2013 I began to have had heart palpitations. I played for like a year and a half with them and didn’t know what it was and until we found out I had a (more…)

Monica Puig

October 23, 2019

October 23, 2019 “I have been clearly struggling for the past three years, dealing with all that pressure and expectation that came after winning gold in the 2016 Olympics. It’s probably been the hardest three years that I’ve ever faced in my entire life. There is a trauma after winning something that major that pushes you flat on your butt. I had an entire country watching me, which was extraordinary, but they didn’t see the darker side. As I became more upset I saw that depression was inevitable when it was tough to get out of bed. At one point you’re on the top of the world and all of a sudden it ends and you just don’t know what just happened. It’s like whiplash. I couldn’t find ways to motivate myself to play. I just didn’t know what to do with myself. There were many times when all I wanted to do was cry every day, in bed, in a dark room. You just continue to question where all your motivation and drive went. That’s when I started realizing that something was wrong and needed to be dealt with. I’m usually, when it comes to my feelings, an introvert, (more…)

Julie Heldman

October 20, 2019

October 20, 2019 “I feel a wonderful sense of pride for women tennis players and women athletes in general. I’m proud that I was a member of the ‘Original 9,’ and that we risked our careers for the future of women’s tennis, and we stood up against huge odds. People now are talking about equal pay for women athletes, but at the time we were just fighting for women to make a living at all because the men who were running tennis, were trying to shut us down. The Original 9 came up in 1970, but it was only two years before that, that open tennis started. Within those two years, the men who were running tennis made it almost impossible for a woman to continue playing, because there was a total of $5,000 in prize money, all year, for all women in the United States in 1970. In reaction to the terrible inequity, my mother and her magazine contributed an additional $5,000 to two separate tournaments. Besides these additions there were many weeks without anywhere to play. Jack Kramer, who was running the Los Angeles tournament, set the prize money ratio at eight to one, men to women. At (more…)

Irina Falconi

October 17, 2019

October 17, 2019 “I stopped playing tennis last year. I was in Chicago the week after losing first-round qualifying of the US Open, and I felt absolutely no thrill being on the court. I didn’t want to compete and didn’t care if I practiced or not. I was far more worried about where we were going for dinner than anything else. I wasn’t enjoying my time on the court anymore. My mental headspace was all out of whack. I had no motivation, no real desire to play, and I hated anything tennis related. That’s when I knew I needed to put the racquet down to make sure that I really wanted to play tennis. Right after Chicago, I was meant to play in the main draw of a WTA tournament in Canada, but I pulled out and decided to take a sabbatical. I was more mentally fatigued than I’d ever been in my life. I wasn’t happy playing and that didn’t help me in other aspects of my life. I didn’t have a time period in mind, I just told people I needed a break. At first I thought I would get some backlash for it, but everyone could not (more…)

Ryan Serhant

October 15, 2019

October 15, 2019 “I grew up in a family who were very sports focused. My dad and brothers were pitchers and quarterbacks. I was terrible at every single sport, just awful, and I’m by far the tallest and biggest in my family so it was just really confusing. My parents worked extremely hard to make sure my brothers and I grew up as well-rounded as possible, which is why they had me play every single sport. I played one-year football, one year baseball, JV lacrosse, Jv mountain climbing and even some tennis in high school. I distinctly remember my dad coming out onto the field during a baseball game, pulled me off of the right field, and told me that this was not my sport, which was super embarrassing and terrible, but looking back it made sense. My wife and I try to get involved in as many opportunities to help kids as possible. We look for charities that are run by good people and where the funding actually goes to the right places. We were introduced to the USTA and were excited about everything they are doing in helping improve the lives of less fortunate kids through tennis and (more…)

Mikhail Youzhny

October 13, 2019

October 13, 2019 “It was 2002, two months before the finals of Davis Cup, I was 20, and my father died. This was the worst moment of my life, the toughest time I have gone through. My father was the one who pushed tennis into my life by bringing my family and I to stadiums to watch tennis when we could. He did whatever he could for us. Before my siblings and I knew anything about tennis, we were going matches. It was a huge surprise to my family and I, nobody was expecting it. We knew his health wasn’t great but no one was waiting for this. Two days before I played Chela in Davis Cup where we competed against Argentina in the finals. This was a big deal because we were already up 3-1 in the matchup when I played him. We were already talking about how we were going to the finals to play France, which was the first time Russia made it to the finals. After I lost my father everyone told me, including myself, to continue playing immediately. They said I had to continue with what I had now, this is what my father would’ve (more…)

Nicholas Lee

October 11, 2019

October 11, 2019 “Afraid to show any emotion associated with weakness, I wouldn’t share with others how debilitating my anxiety was. I also felt isolated due to my sexuality, as my peers and coaches consistently used homophobic language. This only further exasperated my anxiety. My anxiety followed me into high school. By my junior year, feeling the additional pressures involving getting into a good college intensifying, my anxiety had manifested itself in depression. I began to have suicidal ideations and began to self-harm. Too ashamed of who I was as a gay man, I thought I would never find my place in the world, let alone in sports. I believed that I would lose the love and respect of those closest to me. Simultaneously reluctant and desperate for help, I decided to open up to a good friend about my feelings and the dire state that I was in. Worried that my situation would continue to escalate and scared that I would take my own life, he vocalized his concerns to his mom, who then contacted my mom. I eagerly wanted to avoid coming out to my mom. I did not want to disappoint my parents. But when confronted by (more…)

Andrea Sestini Hlavácková

October 9, 2019

October 9, 2019 “I had two very different experiences from the Olympic Games. London was unexpected and basically last minute. My partner and I just got there, played and suddenly we ended up with a silver medal. It was so random and absolutely life changing. Then the second experience was in Rio, where we came in as huge favorites for a gold medal. Suddenly everyone’s talking about you, there’s pressure from the media and our team pushed to stick together and prepare for Olympic Games again. We managed to get all the way through to the semifinals. We had two match points and on the second one I was hit in the eye and the ball broke my orbital bone. I needed a 15 minute break and then we went back to play. We lost the match and I spent whole night in the hospital until 6:00 AM. The next day at 2:00 PM we had to fight for a bronze medal against other Czech girls. It was Czech against Czech, which is never an easy situation. We lost that match. I could see out of my eye but I was very scared. I had tape on my face which kind of pushed (more…)

Sergiy Stakhovsky

October 6, 2019

October 6, 2019 “One of the toughest moments for me was when my grandfather passed away really young. I was 15 at the time. He was a really big supporter of the family and that was a tremendous blow for my family and I. My grandfather was the one who basically helped me get into tennis. He was the one who bought me my first tennis racquet. For me and my mother it was especially tough because he passed away suddenly. He was fully behind everybody, he helped my family anyway he could, whether it was my father, mother or brothers. He was the one who was keeping us all together. He would encourage me all the way. He used to play football back when he was young, when he was in university and he got me into it. I went with him to Dynamo Kiev football matches and that’s how I become a fan. I went to my first match in 1992. He truly helped me become the person I am today. I basically spent my life without parents because I moved to Czech Republic with my mother when I was 12. I would live six months with her (more…)