Will We Always Judge Professional Athletes for Changes in Body Weight?

August 30, 2020

As the summer months come to a close, the pandemic continues to highlight the divide between privileged and underprivileged communities. This socioeconomic partition yields unequal access to the social determinants of health, conditions that promote healthy living. Economic disadvantage often results in food instability and limited access to healthy foods. Without proper nutrition, it is difficult to maintain ideal body weight. For some, a lack of mental health resources can also present an obstacle to establishing healthy routines with food. Athletes frequently suffer from mental health struggles that lead to disordered eating. In addition, food security does not guarantee a healthy eating plan. In fact, elite athletes are often intensely focused on diet and exercise and thus are very susceptible to disordered eating patterns. These athletes are subject to both internal and external pressures to maintain the ideal body conditions traditionally correlated with peak performance in sport. The past six months have interrupted plans and disrupted routines of professional athletes as well as the greater population. Madison Keys, who achieved a career high ranking of world number 7 in 2016, has been open about her mental health struggles since revealing her journey with disordered eating on Behind The Racquet last (more…)

Mats Wilander

August 27, 2020

“Our third child was born with a genetic disease that severely affects his skin. When he was three years old, we moved from Connecticut to Idaho because the dry air was better for him. Tennis taught me to expect the unexpected and adapt to unique situations. These skills helped me adjust to his condition. Being a father is the biggest adjustment you make as a human being. My career was split in two parts. During the first part of my career, I achieved my limits physically and emotionally but not joyfully. At age 16, I turned professional. At age 17, I won my first challenger event and the 1982 French Open. For the next six years, I captured Grand Slams and climbed the rankings. It seemed too easy. At age 24, I won the 1988 US Open and became the number one player in the world. That evening I thought, ‘Was that really my goal? Because my motivation has gone out the window.’ I kept playing and struggled with injuries. At age 27, I took a break and didn’t play for two years. I was 29 when I returned to the tour. This time, my purpose was enjoying the experience (more…)

Sabine Lisicki

August 20, 2020

“In 2010, I was on crutches for 6 weeks due to an ankle injury. It was difficult to leave my apartment and I had to learn to walk again. We take a lot for granted. Many people said I would not return to the circuit but I never thought about giving up. In 2011, I was ranked outside the Top 200 and four months later, I was ranked inside the Top 30. I won the Aegon Classic in Birmingham and reached the semifinals of Wimbledon. Two years later, I played in the Wimbledon final.The last few years have been difficult. In 2018, I was starting to play well again and reached the finals of the Taipei OEC Open. The next year, I started feeling weak and did not know why. It took more than six months for doctors to figure out that I had mononucleosis. I had no energy to go to the grocery store. When I got cleared, I had to start from scratch. After fifteen minutes of exercising, I was exhausted. Over time, I slowly regained physical strength and was about to return to the tour when the pandemic hit.My parents never gave up on me and I’m (more…)

Colby Grey

August 18, 2020

“Tennis was never supposed to be my crutch in life, but I was forced to lean on it throughout the ups and downs of my life. Up until nine, I was a designated baseball batter, but I wanted to hit the ball more than a handful of times. It never seemed to click, that was until I found tennis and I fell head over heels for the sport. I grew up in a small town; to play at the top level you had to travel every weekend, and that’s exactly what I did. But, tennis became difficult to continue after my health took a turn for the worst. Constant nausea and abdominal pain sidelined me, and eventually, I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis, a paralysis of the stomach, along with numerous health issues. I had multiple surgeries and, after a long recovery, began back on the grind.My dad and I grew immensely close traveling to tournaments, and I got up to 188 in the nation. But, when it seemed like I was at the peak of my tennis career, life threw a curveball at me; my dad was killed by an intoxicated driver. Numb from the shock, tennis went from a (more…)

Andreas Seppi

August 13, 2020

My toughest time was the year after I broke into the Top 100. In 2005, I was 21 years old and had a breakthrough on tour. I started the year as number 140 and four months later, I was in the Top 75. You have higher expectations and put more pressure on yourself. The next year, I struggled to defend the points from the previous year and fell outside the Top 100 for several weeks. This was the only time I left the Top 100 for another 12 years. In 2010, I retired from a match because of nothing. I won the first set and lost the second set in a tiebreaker. I was losing in the third set and just retired. I was always a player who liked fighting until the end of a match so to retire out of nothing was really strange for me. During a changeover, I told my coach, “If I lose the next game, I’m done.” Then it happened. I just retired. I told the umpire that my leg hurt so I couldn’t play anymore. After the match, I went into the locker room and my coach came in. I thought he would be (more…)

Nadia Petrova

August 6, 2020

”I was born to an athletic family. My mom was a bronze medalist in the 1976 Montreal Olympics in the 4 x 400 relay. My dad coached an Olympic medalist in the hammer throw. I have sport in my genes. My parents introduced me to tennis and I had success right away. At age 14, I won my first ITF Junior event and realized I wanted to play professionally. That same year, I played my first WTA event. The transition from juniors to the professional circuit was difficult because I had to raise my physical and mental level. I slowly got to that level and at age 17, I turned professional. In 2005, I broke into the Top 10. In 2006, I climbed to number 3 in the world. I won tournament after tournament on clay and was one of the favorites heading into the 2006 French Open. But the rest of the ride was not as smooth. A couple days before the 2006 French Open, I injured my left hip. That injury threw me off and I was never able to return to the same level of tennis. I came back and played the 2006 US Open Series but (more…)