Touching and Fantastic Article on Mary.
It is a semi final profile. For me it was very touching. The quote and all the injuries just to see Mary get through. It is a special thing for me and I am sure I am not the only one. Hope you all enjoy this article just as much as I do.
Taken from ww.wtatour.com :
US Open Semifinal Profile: Mary Pierce
"There was this little voice inside of me that just said, 'You're not done. Now's not the time to retire. You still have some great things to accomplish in tennis.'"
FLUSHING MEADOWS, N.Y. - After an inspiring run to the Roland Garros title in 2000, Mary Pierce began a long, well-documented battle with injuries for the better part of the next three years, including bouts with tendonitis in her right shoulder and ankles, chronic inflammation of the lumbar spine and a nagging abdominal strain. Although she tried to come back from each and every one, her returns to competition were often interrupted by more physical ailments and the lay-offs were becoming too frequent. Pierce bottomed out in April of 2002, falling as low as No.295 on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Singles Rankings.
"When I was injured and out with my back injury for a while, I didn't know if I was going to be able to play again or not. I thought, 'Well, I'm just going to do everything that I possibly can to come back, and be the best that I can.'"
Although it has taken some time, the belief was always there, and the Mary Pierce renaissance of 2005 is one of the great comeback stories of the season. It began fittingly at Roland Garros, the site of her greatest triumph, where Pierce made another inspiring run to the final, highlighted by a stunning straight-sets win over world No.1 Lindsay Davenport before falling to Justine Henin-Hardenne. The 30-year-old Frenchwoman then headed to Wimbledon, where she reached her first quarterfinal there in nine years before losing a close two-set encounter to eventual champion Venus Williams. She then headed to the Tier I event in San Diego, where she cruised to her first title in over five years without losing a set. Pierce came into the US Open having won 16 of her last 18 matches, and that streak wasn't about to stop.
"I came in feeling confident. I've always been pretty confident in myself, my abilities, just believing in myself and what I'm able to do. The French Open final just kind of started confirmation of what I really believed in myself, what I had been working really hard for over a year for."
Pierce has not relented at Flushing Meadows, overpowering five straight opponents in five straight-sets matches to reach her very first US Open semifinal. After losing just 14 games in her first three rounds, the 12th seed has completely turned her quarter of the draw upside down, ousting No.7-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne 63 64 in the fourth round on Monday under the lights and crushing No.3-seeded compatriot Amelie Mauresmo 64 61 on Wednesday afternoon to reach the semis. Her two most recent wins have been more than impressive, considering she had never beaten Henin-Hardenne in four prior encounters and had not won a set against Mauresmo in their last four meetings.
"It's taken me some time to get back into shape, be fit and be back at the level I enjoy playing at. When I come into the later rounds and against the top players, I just continue having that belief in myself and in my game, just going out and playing my game the best I can and hopefully coming out the winner."
Pierce has by far the best match numbers for the tournament among the final four competitors. She is serving better than anyone, with an average first serve percentage of 71%, winning three quarters of the points on her first serve and two thirds on her second serve, hitting 18 aces to just three double faults and maintaining an average first serve speed of 103mph, the only player with a three-digit velocity in that category. Perhaps the most stunning statistic is that she is not just the only player to have a positive winners-to-errors ratio, but it is an incredible +65, as she has blasted 123 winners to just 58 miscues through the first five rounds.
Next up for Pierce will be 2004 US Open finalist Elena Dementieva, whom she has played twice previously. In their first encounter, Pierce was forced to retire down a set with an upset stomach at Miami in 2000, and in their second meeting, Pierce squandered a one-set lead and lost in three at Sarasota in 2003. However, the two-time Grand Slam champion is a different player now than she was then.
"I'm definitely an all around better athlete and a competitor. Mentally, I'm stronger. I feel like I've worked on my serve and I've improved that. Women's tennis is a lot tougher now than it was 10 years ago. So for me to be competing in the top now means I need to be stronger and faster and better than before."
Pierce's previous best results at the US Open have been quarterfinal finishes in 1994 and 1999. In her first final eight appearance she lost in straight sets to the now-retired Jana Novotna, and in 1999 she took defending champion Lindsay Davenport to three sets, squandering two match points in the third before losing.
"This is the best that I've done at the US Open in my career, which I think is amazing. I'm just really happy, so anybody I play, I'll be looking forward to it. I'll be excited. I'll be giving everything that I have. Hopefully it will be a great match."
The Mary Pierce renaissance does not only apply to her tennis, but it also applies to her perspective on playing tennis. Win or lose at the 2005 US Open, her momentum seems to be building with her new-found outlook, and it will not be a surprise if she keeps on rising.
"I think before when I was first coming out on the tour and young, you're very hungry to achieve and to have success and to make money, to win tournaments, to get a high ranking, just to be noticed and get contracts, and all those kind of things you just get caught up with. I don't play for those things anymore now. It's not with really what's important to me now."