Melanie Oudin's career was heavily conditioned by bad luck, which did not allow her to win what she deserved. The former world junior No. 2 was considered one of the most promising talents of American tennis thanks to a fantastic mix of talent and determination (she also won the 2011 US Open mixed doubles title).
As a 17-year-old in the middle of 2009, Oudin reached the round of 16 of the Wimbledon Championships, followed by a quarterfinal at the US Open six weeks later. She reached a career-high ranking of world No. 31 in April 2010.
Oudin retired from professional tour on August 18, 2017, citing numerous health issues and injuries. In a 'Behind the Racquet' interview, she revealed when she started thinking about retirement: “I started thinking about retirement around January 2017.
It started with a torn muscle in my hand but that was only the beginning. I had gotten Mono and a horrible hamstring injury that sadly turned into hamstring tendinitis. I've done everything right to try and heal but it seemed like it wasn’t improving.
I knew my body my would never be the same again. With continuous work I could get to a certain level but I needed my absolute best to get back to where I was. After extended time fighting back, I could tell 100% was impossible.
It was mentally and physically exhausting and more draining than I could’ve imagine. Even though it was tough to admit, I could tell it was the right decision. The first truly damaging injury started in 2012, the end of the year, when I was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a rare muscle condition that releases toxins into your bloodstream.
It then causes your organs to start failing. In 2013 I began to have had heart palpitations. I played for like a year and a half with them and didn't know what it was and until we found out I had a type of SVT (supra ventricular tachycardia).
I had to have two catheter ablations, after the first didn’t work, to burn the extra tissue right next to my heart, which was causing my heart to race like crazy. It would start with my limbs, where my legs started to feel like they couldn't really move, and I would almost pass out.
I was originally misdiagnosed with panic attacks, which I didn't tell anybody about because I was embarrassed and thought that I caused them myself. I was given every test in the book by cardiologists, and all just told me, ‘There's nothing wrong with you.
It's just panic attacks.’ I would look at them and always believe them, I didn’t know any better. I did have this thought that I’ve played in front of thousands of people all my life and I never had a panic attack, which seemed weird.
My next step was seeing a sports psychologist where I worked on my breathing. I did everything I was supposed to be doing but it still wouldn't go away. Time went by and then a period came where my heart would race during matches.
I ended up going with my grandmother to urgent care and they couldn’t get my blood pressure. My heart rate was 220 beats per minute just sitting down. They immediately took an EKG and were able to tell me that it wasn't a panic attack, there was clearly something wrong.
The next day, I saw a different cardiologist, and they were able to see the EKG and diagnose me correctly. It is crazy. I played two years with something that could have been fixed right away but instead went misdiagnosed for that time.
To top it all off, towards the end of my career I tore a muscle in my hand. It's funny, I have been asked a lot of questions like, ‘Did you wish you had another run like you did at the US Open?’ Of course I did!
Everybody wishes that but I felt like I gave everything I had on and off the court. I don't really have any regrets. I'll always be thankful for the run I did have and getting to 30 in the world is a great accomplishment and the rest is out of my control.
I've talked to some of my friends who are playing still right now and they talk about how they have zero idea what life after tennis looks like. For me, I didn't really think it would come as soon as it did. I struggled a little bit with a minor identity crisis because I’ve been a tennis player my whole life, what was I now? I did a better job than I thought of just truly relaxing and not doing anything for a while.
I tend to force myself to stay busy and always figuring out my next move. I did eventually start exploring many different things to see what my next passion was and what I wanted my next career to be. Now I’ve started coaching and I never saw myself as a coach, but after doing it consistently and giving it my full attention, I've found that it is truly what I am supposed to be doing. I also always wanted to run my own foundation."