Thiago Seyboth Wild

November 19, 2020

“I grew up in a small town in southern Brazil. At age 5, my dad taught me to play tennis. He tried to play on tour. He played challengers and the qualifying draw at the French Open. He coached me until age 14 when we moved to Rio de Janeiro. In Rio, I worked with a local coach for three years. In 2018, I won the US Open Junior title and started working with the former Brazilian Davis Cup captain who is still my coach today. I have a secret passion for Harry Potter. I have Harry Potter tattoos on my body. I have the Golden Snitch, Hermione’s eyes, the Forbidden Forest, and Hedwig’s head. I started watching the movies when I was 14. Harry Potter taught me to surround yourself with people you love and trust. In 2015, I realized that tennis is what I wanted to do with my life. The tennis court was the only place where I could drown out all of the world’s problems. That same year, my parents decided they didn’t want me to play tennis anymore. My mother wanted me to go to medical school and become a doctor like everyone else in (more…)

Simona Halep

November 12, 2020

“In 2014, tennis changed my life. I played in my first Grand Slam final at the French Open. No one in Romania had reached a Grand Slam final since 1978. Emotions exploded and everyone had high hopes for my future. They started to believe I could win a Grand Slam. I became popular overnight. People recognized me on the streets and asked for pictures and autographs. This was a big change and was tough to manage but I learned many things during this time. I tried to enjoy the attention but it was stressful because it took a lot of energy. I did not want to lose focus on my career. I tried to find a balance. I was generous and open with fans but stayed focused on the hard work needed to earn results on court. At first, I felt I had to show the world I could keep winning. This feeling motivated me to improve every day but was always in my mind. Over the past few years, I have improved in the way I deal with both negative and positive aspects of pressure. I embrace pressure after a big win. I face the pressure and try not (more…)

Rajeev Ram

November 5, 2020

“My father passed away April of 2019. In 2018, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I found out the day I got home from the Australian Open. Chemotherapy is one of the worst things you can see somebody go through. It is almost worse than the disease itself, especially with pancreatic cancer because the survival rate is so low. You have to decide if you want to go through treatment or just live as well as possible for as long as you have to live. You face this situation only in your wildest dreams. I am an only child and my father and I had a great relationship. I was never forced into tennis. It was always my choice. Until age 12, my dad and I played tennis together. He would come home every day from work and we would go out to the local high school courts and play. My tennis had a special place in his heart and when the sport became my career, my dad was proud. Our father-son activity turned into my job which is pretty rare. After he was diagnosed with cancer, tennis did not matter as much. I won my first Grand Slam title (more…)

Alison Riske

October 29, 2020

“In 2009, I turned professional and gave up a scholarship to play at Vanderbilt. I was ranked around 220 when I had a family friend offer to support me and my coach until I could support myself. (He changed my life forever!) Out of everyone in my family, I was the one who doubted whether I was going to succeed on tour. My dad was a marine, a secret service agent and an FBI private investigator. He has a strong personality and is extremely disciplined and tough. I started playing tennis when I was three. My dad would take me out every single day. At first, he had me play without a net in front of our house. As I got older and transitioned to the real court, that is when he really forced me to put in the hours- kind of against my will. Competing was the one thing that held my interest to the sport because I liked to battle and win from a young age. Honestly, I owe everything to my dad. If it weren’t for him, there is no chance I would be where I am today. My mom has a sweet and simple personality and (more…)

Iga Swiatek

October 22, 2020

“I am only 19 years old so nothing special has happened in my life. Growing up, I played tennis because I had a lot of energy as a kid. Tennis was a chance for me to be alone on the court and make my own decisions. I loved winning and was good at it. But I did not fall in love with tennis right away because I did not know how much it could bring to my life. At age 15, I played my first junior Grand Slam, the French Open. This was the first time I wanted to be a professional tennis player. I always knew I had potential. I was the top-ranked player in Poland but didn’t know if I was mentally or physically ready to play professionally. We do not have many players in my country so I was not around experienced players who could teach me how to make it on tour. I had to find my own way. I am not good at dealing with injuries. At age 16, I had surgery. I did not have a good relationship with pain and was not sure if I would overcome this obstacle. Two years later, I (more…)

Laurent Lokoli

October 15, 2020

“I grew up with my parents and three older sisters in Corsica, a small island in the Mediterranean Sea. At age 10, life put me on my knees when one of my sisters was diagnosed with cancer. For two years, I watched her fight for her life. When she lost her hair she was crying and hugging me and I felt powerless. After a long and hard fight, she beat cancer and made me promise to never give up. At age 12, I left home to train. I struggled with tennis because I was alone and my parents were getting divorced. Finally, I found my rhythm but then I experienced the deepest pain of my life. At age 14, my oldest sister passed away in a car accident at 28 years old. I felt like someone took my heart from my chest and I couldn’t handle the pain. My sister was a lawyer and my role model and she left me without a landmark. I became a totally different person, fighting my pain in darkness and solitude. I was seen as an outsider in the French Federation. I was alone and struggled to make friends. I watched my family fall (more…)

Sasha Korashvili

October 8, 2020

“I am a professional tennis player and a student-athlete at the University of Oklahoma. This May, I completed my undergraduate studies and entered graduate school at the University of Oklahoma. During summer break, I came back home to Ukraine. During practices I would rapidly feel fatigued. My heart rate was unusually quick while my recovery time was extremely slow. At first I thought I had lost my physical conditioning given the fact we all were stuck at home during quarantine. After finishing one of the workouts, my heart rate did not drop below 120 beats for an hour. I thought this was related to the harsh weather conditions that day – it was very hot and humid. A week after that, on August 8th, I got sick. I had symptoms such as headaches, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss (12lbs) and fever that could go up to 103 degrees. After long examination and countless tests I was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome with Myelofibrosis. My doctor said that Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) is needed to cure these diseases. At the moment I am at the stage when I can immediately undergo BMT without remission chemotherapy. We need this (more…)

Gigi Fernandez

October 1, 2020

#LegendaryBTR- “When I learned to play tennis in Puerto Rico, girls didn’t play sports so earning a living in tennis was not a possibility. I was raised to get married and have children but my older brothers played tennis and I wanted to be like them. When I started tennis, coaches would not teach me topspin because they thought girls were too weak. But that didn’t matter because there was no competition in Puerto Rico so I could still win playing with slice. Since the Puerto Rico Tennis Association was part of the USTA, I could play Summer Nationals where I was discovered by college coaches. I was recruited to play for Clemson University, where for the first time in my life I had to play tennis every day. The improvement was tremendous and  I reached the finals of the 1983 NCAA tournament as a freshman. I turned professional that year. But I was at a disadvantage on tour because I had to learn how to hit topspin like everyone else. As a junior, I rarely lost but as a professional I lost every week, sometimes even twice per week. I hated traveling. I was homesick and could not even afford (more…)

Facundo Mena

September 24, 2020

“My father was my idol, the man I followed when I was young. He played tennis for many years. He never played ATP, but played club in Europe. I always wanted to follow his lead, his tennis. He wasn’t just my father, he was also my coach and the coach of many others like Facundo Bagnis. He was a really nice coach and many people from tennis in Argentina loved and respected him. This February, I was playing a tournament in Cordoba and had to come back to Argentina because my father had been diagnosed with lymphoma. It happened so quickly I could not process it. I went to the hospital every morning and stayed with him, trying to help with whatever he needed. Four weeks later, he passed away. February 18th was the worst day of my life. I have not been playing well since that day. During my first round, all the emotions came to me.  I won the first set and then went down 0-6,0-3. I couldn’t move but I put one foot in front of the other and told myself to press on for my father. It was my birthday, so I told myself I had (more…)

Zarina Diyas

September 17, 2020

“At 18, I had shoulder surgery and did not play tennis for seven months. At 23, I had wrist surgery and did not play for nine months. The next year, I returned to the Top 50 but then I tore a ligament in my knee. When I returned to the court, I was in a lot of pain. Then my close friend passed away. I lost mental and physical energy to train and started to have stomach pain. I continued to play but I had this pain in my stomach and was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. I lost a lot of weight and suddenly I was scared to eat because I could not tolerate normal food. Training and competing with pain became really difficult. I fought through my pain in practice and matches because tennis helped me get through this time. It was really tough but I never felt like I wanted to give up. The support of my family, friends and team helped as well. It took me a year to manage my stomach issues and figure out a new diet. These difficult times made me stronger. Now, I am trying to stay positive through the pandemic and (more…)