Serena Williams’s Resilience After a Tendon Tear

How Serena Williams’ former coach brought Simona Halep back from the brink of tennis retirement

She was a tennis prodigy, and as a 14-year-old, she was on the verge of making her pro debut after winning the Australian Open junior singles championship.

But in May 2011, Williams suffered a sudden and mysterious setback, one that would eventually lead her to take a six-month break from international competition and a new outlook on her future.

“I stopped playing hard,” the 13-time Grand Slam winner told BBC Sport’s Simon Jones, recalling the day she made her last appearance at the Australian Open.

“I wasn’t getting as many points on the return, I wasn’t hitting as many winners, and my movement was off.”

Williams’ results were declining, and her confidence was slipping, but the former world No. 1 – now ranked outside the top 10 – was determined to overcome her predicament.

“I remember talking to my mom about it, saying I really want to go back and play tennis again, and that I really wanna get back,” she said.

“I didn’t want her to think I was being selfish, that I was letting her down.”

It was a tough decision. Williams was close to a move to a new university, and it was clear she wasn’t playing well enough to make the grade.

But she was given the go-ahead by the sport’s governing body, which decided that she had been suffering from a serious tendon tear and, as a result, must seek to rebuild her confidence by taking up a new sport.

“It’s very tough,” she said. “Because you don’t want anything to go wrong. But my parents always encouraged me to go back and I’m super thankful they were still there. They really believed in me as a tennis player and pushed me through.”

And she did go back – and has since established herself as a successful, dominant tennis player, winning Olympic gold with a stunning display of resilience against Czech Republic players.

She was close to tears when she told how she had lost her best friend, Serena Williams, to cancer in 2007

Yet that decision brought her back to the brink of retirement and, eventually, her world No. 1 ranking.

She also had not been playing well enough

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