It was a clear, sunny but cool Monday in Charleston, an average day but not so routine for its hometown resident and comeback tennis player Shelby Rogers. She's been on the WTA tour for ten years and suffered a knee injury at Indian Wells last season, sidelining her for over a year not knowing if she'd ever play again.
She tried various therapies but came to the conclusion that surgery had to be done. "There were times I thought this wouldn't happen," she emotionally said. Many days she was in a dark place not knowing if her career and passion would be gone forever.
"I'm just so happy...to compete again because when it's taken away from you, you really realize how much you love it," Rogers explained. What a difference a few years makes as Rogers was ranked in the top 80s when she was injured and presently has fallen to the top 750.
It was back then she didn't need a wild card to get into the Volvo Car Open and had gone as far as the quarterfinals. Today, she's grateful to have had the opportunity to just participate. It was scary and a challenge to make her comeback at her hometown of Charleston at the first round of the 2019 season.
What if she lost in front of everyone, she'd feel devastated. But being positive helped drive Rogers to blast her forehands, work any opponent around to get an open court and go for a winner. Rogers' opponent was Russia's Evgeniya Rodina their first meeting.
In front of the hometown crowd and locals at the Billie Jean King Court, she had trailed 3-4 in the first set. This might not have been a time to panic, she didn't and remained calm, gained momentum, faith and courage to take the next three games and win the opening set.
Everyone could see the sigh of relief as she grabbed the first set but Rodina had taken the first two games of the second set, leaving Rogers to feel not disgusted but more determined. She didn't lose focus and went on carefully and precisely to win the next 4 games being victorious in the set and the match, 6-4, 6-2 her first in over a year.
The emotions had flowed as she went up to shake Rodina's hand and then wiped the tears from her eyes running to her team with relief and accomplishment. Rogers was just glad to be on the court and remembers saying to the media that "this was my first real big injury, and it was much harder than I thought it was going to be."
Shelby Rogers has made it through the first hurdle and is anxious to see how much she can do and how far she will go. She feels rejuvenated now and says "..I was always ready for the comeback. That's what kept me motivated, to come back and play the sport I love again."