Rebecca Sramkova opens up on eye condition and 'not knowing how it feels to see good'

Sramkova, 27, introduced herself to the tennis world in Rome but not many know her real tennis story.

by Dzevad Mesic
Rebecca Sramkova opens up on eye condition and 'not knowing how it feels to see good'
© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Rebecca Sramkova reveals she "does not know how it is to see good" as the Slovak tennis player was born with an eye condition that left with a very poor sight in her left eye.

This week at a WTA 1000 tournament in Rome, 27-year-old Sramkova - ranked at No. 120 in the world - put up the best run of her career. After winning two qualifying matches to make her main draw debut at Foro Italico, Sramkova also won her opening three matches to reach the last-16 before losing a thriller to 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

By displaying good tennis in Rome and making a solid run, Sramkova introduced herself to the tennis world as tennis fans had a chance to see the tennis that the Slovak was capable of playing. But Sramkova's tennis journey is not an ordinary story as the 27-year-old was born with an eye condition that would make it extremely hard or almost impossible for anyone to pursue a pro sports career.

But as a little girl, Sramkova started playing tennis with the hope that all the aspects and coordinations of the game could help her improve her left eyesight. Unfortunately, that didn't happen but it was still the beginning of something positive as Sramkova realized she could play tennis and continued with the sport.

"I don't know how it is to see good. I tried wearing contact lenses, but the vision was not that much different and I couldn't stand the feeling," Sramkova told the WTA website.

Rebecca Sramkova
Rebecca Sramkova © Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Sramkova on the injuries she has battled in recent years

Very early in her career, Sramkova was on the verge of breaking into the top-100 in the world as she achieved a career-high ranking of No. 111 in 2017 May. But then, Sramkova very unfortunately suffered a back injury and that sidelined her for a significant period. 

In the last few years, Sramkova also battled shoulder, abdominal and leg injuries and had surgery in 2022. 

"I didn't play for almost one year because I had problems with my back," Sramkova said.

"Then I had problems with my shoulder and with my abs. When I started to play good again I had a stress fracture in my leg. That was two years ago. I had a surgery in 2022. My bone was in three pieces, and they took two pieces off. Well, it took me three more months to get back in shape."

In Rome, Sramkova started with a 6-4 6-1 win over Italian wildcard Georgia Pedone before beating recent San Diego Open champion Katie Boulter 6-4 7-6 (8). After beating world No. 28 Boulter, Sramkova also upset 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-4 4-6 6-4. 

On Monday, Sramkova was close to beating another Grand Slam champion but Ostapenko managed to survive and escape with a 4-6 6-4 7-6 (3) win. 

When the WTA rankings list gets updated on Monday, Sramkova will break into the top-100 for the first time in her career as she is expected to be ranked somewhere in the range between 85-90. And going forward, Sramkova wants to do more notable results and become "someone" in women's tennis.

"I want to be someone. That's why we do this sport -- to be someone. You see all the other girls around you fighting to be someone, and you want that, too. That's what keeps me pushing," Sramkova highlighted.

Rebecca Sramkova
Rebecca Sramkova © Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Sramkova came very close to upsetting Ostapenko and reaching the Rome quarterfinal

Early in the first set, Sramkova showed to Ostapenko that she came to play as she broke the ninth-seeded Latvian in the very first game of the match. However, Ostapenko quickly responded, claiming back-to-back breaks in the second and fourth games to go 3-1 up.

Just when it seemed that Ostapenko was starting to control everything, Sramkova managed to bounce back and get the break instantly back in the fifth game. A couple of games later, Sramkova broke Ostapenko for the third time in the set for a 5-4 lead before routinely serving out for the opener in the following game.

After winning the first set, Sramkova also broke Ostapenko in the third game of the second set. But just after going up by a set and a break, Sramkova got broken back in the fourth game. Down 4-5 and serving to stay in the second set, Sramkova lost her serve again as Ostapenko managed to force a decider.

In the third set, Sramkova was also twice up by a break but Ostapenko twice managed to get the break back. What is most disappointing for Sramkova is that her second break came in the ninth game but she didn't manage to serve out for the match in the following game.

In the 12th game, Sramkova managed to save a match point on her serve but Ostapenko clinched three more match points at 6-3 in the third-set tie-break and completed her win after realizing her second match point.

Although Sramkova lost, her performance versus Ostapenko was another proof that she can compete well against the best players in the game.

Rebecca Sramkova