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goldenlox
Nov 3rd, 2007, 02:05 PM
The culmination of the 2007 season begins on Tuesday, when the top eight singles players and top four doubles teams in the world compete for the WTA Championships in Madrid. All year, players have battled for enough quality points to earn a place among the elite in the year's final event.
There's always some last-minute drama, as players try to knock each other out, vying for those final spots. This year, we've seen such stories as Daniela Hantuchova winning at the last minute in Linz, Austria, to earn one of the last two singles spots. Or the battle in the doubles event, where Rennae Stubbs and Kveta Peschke won two events this fall to clinch a berth.
But there's a story you probably missed among the drama -- and it's not about a player or team trying to clinch. It's about an individual who earned her spot months ago, only to have to relinquish it in the end under unfortunate circumstances.
A year ago this week, my doubles partner, Samantha Stosur, was half of the No. 1 doubles team in the world. We had just won our ninth tournament of the year, heading into Madrid as the defending champions. We would go on defend our title, ending what would be an impressive year that included the French Open title and the Doubles Team of the Year award.
One year later, Sam sits in her apartment in Tampa, Fla., her home away from home during the long tennis season, amazed at how things can change on a dime. She hasn't seen a gym in almost a month, sleeps 10 hours a night and gets winded walking around the grocery store.
She hasn't picked up a racket since flying home in September from the U.S. Open. That following morning, she was taken to the emergency room after suffering from intense headaches. She would spend the next few nights in the hospital, as the staff ran tests to figure out what was wrong. The first bit of news she received was that she had contracted viral meningitis, a diagnosis that would lead to a month of medicine and lots of rest.
But she didn't feel any better. She underwent more tests, which uncovered more troubling news: Sam had Lyme disease. One of the fittest players on tour, Stosur went from playing tennis four hours a day, followed by grueling gym workouts, to staying in her apartment and struggling to find the strength to make herself breakfast each morning.
For the next six weeks, Sam had to receive a new round of antibiotics through an IV, twice daily, which she had to administer herself. There would be no exercise, no sweating, nothing that would cause fatigue. This world-class athlete went from being on top of the world to the mercy of doctors and nurses in the blink of an eye.
Luckily, Sam's prognosis is very good. With the help of her medicine and strict doctor's orders, she's been feeling better each day and is on the road to recovery. Her goal is to be back playing in her homeland of Australia by January. I have no doubt that Sam's positive outlook and patience will get her back on the court, playing at the level she did just a few months ago.
For me, not being able to play in Madrid and complete a possible hat trick of WTA Championships was, of course, disappointing. But when I take a step back and look at the reality of the situation, I realize how incredibly lucky I am in so many ways.
It's unfortunate that because of the nature of our sport, playing week to week, tournament to tournament, we never get a chance to sit back and relish our victories. We take them for granted, always looking ahead to the next event. But what if there wasn't a next week? What if this was the last final you were to play, the last ball you would ever strike or the last time you would stand on the podium and raise the trophy?
Life has a funny way of playing itself out, sometimes even a cruel way of teaching us its most valuable lessons. It's easy to take for granted hitting a winner or the adrenaline you feel serving at match point. On and off the court, this is a lesson I have become more familiar with in the past few months. Life is precious; live every day with conviction and passion, and relish every moment.
I know that Sam will be back better than ever, with a new appreciation for the sport that has brought so much to her life. That will make two of us.
Five-time women's doubles Grand Slam winner Lisa Raymond writes for SI.com on alternate Fridays.

Natalicious
Nov 3rd, 2007, 02:09 PM
lisa :worship:

sam, get well soon :awww:

roelc
Nov 3rd, 2007, 02:14 PM
sam, I had no idea :sad:

I wish her the best!

nice words from lisa!

Ben.
Nov 3rd, 2007, 02:15 PM
i knew sam contracted an illness & that she was resting quite a lot (as it said on her official website)...but wow i didn't know it was Lyme Disease she had.

Very touching words from Lisa & she is abolsutely right about living life preciously & relishing every successful moment you encounter :)

Can't wait to see you play again Sam :D

stefi62
Nov 3rd, 2007, 02:16 PM
Wow! Great and touching blog entry by Lisa! :worship:

Poor Sammy! :hug: But she seems to improve! Hopefully she'll be back at the beginning of next year! :bounce:

Same thing happened for Black/Huber in 2005: they were qualified for the YEC but Liezel broke her knee at mid season. That's part of a doubles team career, you also rely on your partner and her health. :sad:

But Sammy and Lisa are great players and everything will be forgotten in no time! :kiss:

Despite my team's results, I'm a bit sad cos this year, with the two best doubles teams on top, that could have been great! But the teams that'll be at YEC are also great teams, and c'est la vie!

The Kaz
Nov 3rd, 2007, 02:16 PM
Sam :sobbing:

Come back strong in 08!

Lisa :worship: What a beautiful and innovative blog...

Farina Elia Fan
Nov 3rd, 2007, 02:19 PM
nice read :)

NeeemZ
Nov 3rd, 2007, 03:03 PM
Wow, I didn't know it was this serious! Please get better Sam!

smit101
Nov 3rd, 2007, 03:12 PM
Sammy :( ....Hope she gets better soon and can play here in Australia!!

stefi62
Nov 3rd, 2007, 03:15 PM
The most difficult for her is probably that she cannot even go home to Australia cos she is too weak to travel!

Elwin.
Nov 3rd, 2007, 03:31 PM
samantha :sad: :hug:

Renalicious
Nov 3rd, 2007, 03:33 PM
Nice blog, I feel sorry for Sam :sad:

Scotso
Nov 3rd, 2007, 03:40 PM
Sam :sad: :hug:

keirana332
Nov 4th, 2007, 12:46 AM
beautiful words from lisa
get well soon sammy!

-sugi-
Nov 4th, 2007, 01:14 AM
Lisa :worship:

LordByron
Nov 4th, 2007, 06:08 AM
Nice Post

Wish her all the best in her recovery

hdfb
Nov 4th, 2007, 06:56 AM
Nice words Lisa.

Mr.Kardashian
Nov 4th, 2007, 07:01 AM
aww nicely written lisa! get well soon sam we love you