Four months ago, Sarah Beth Grey’s entire tennis career at Liverpool was in jeopardy because of a heart abnormality – now, the 26-year-old is just two games away from a spot at Wimbledon.
Grey, who benefits from the LTA’s NTC Access program, which offers free access to courts on all three surfaces, training, coaches and the LTA tournament bonus scheme, ran a marathon in the first round of the Wimbledon qualifiers, surpassing the australian Olivia Gadecki 5-7 7-5 7-6 [10-7].
For a player who has always prided herself on her physicality, the grueling conditions and nearly three-hour date would normally have been the kind of environment she thrives in, but Gray is still just months away from wondering if she might have to call. the time in your tennis days forever.
A routine ECG test in February detected an abnormal heart rhythm with potentially dangerous consequences, leaving Gray in limbo.
She explained: “It’s amazing, especially since at the beginning of the year, I didn’t know if I would ever get back on the court with the health issues I had in my heart.
“I have the LTA and their medical team to thank for finding the issue and they have been great helping me get back on the court.
“Back and in one of my first tournaments in the qualifiers for Wimbledon, I’m just over the moon.
“It was a big shock to start with because for the last year I felt like I was at the peak of my career so far. To be told that something is not right with the heart, they detected an abnormal heart rhythm that was potentially dangerous, so they had to investigate further.
“At one point they weren’t sure which way it was going to go, it didn’t feel very good to go on, but luckily, they had a procedure and they were able to get it fixed.”
This procedure is known as cardiac ablation, effectively scarring the heart tissue to block irregular electrical currents.
From discovering the abnormality to further investigation and then to the procedure itself, only a month had passed, but that was just the beginning of Grey’s journey, who then had to make sure she was ready to return to court. with the psychological impact. arguably greater than the effect on her body.
She explained: “I was on the mend again within the next three months, physically and mentally. It cost me a lot, so I didn’t play again. I took my time to make sure I was ready to get back on the ride when I did. That was for this grass season.
“I feel very grateful just to be playing. I think I’m taking that energy to the court with me.”
Gray was never comfortable against his Australian opponent in a match that swung one way and then the other. In the first set, she backed off when Gadecki was serving for the set, only to lose the serve immediately.
With a break in the second, she struggled to take the decision to the decision, and it looked like she was going to get away with it when she broke and served for the match at 5-3.
This time it was Gadecki’s turn to bounce back, with Gray then having to save break points at 5-5 and only going away to win the match in the final stages of the championship tiebreak.
She will now play Switzerland’s Lulu Sun in the second round of qualifiers, with the top priority making sure she’s ready to play again.
She added: “There’s a lot of emotion, relief. It was a lot of hard work, that whole match. I’m so glad I went through this.
“I think my physicality is my biggest strength with my sneakers. Since I don’t have the advantage of being a big high hitter, I have to maximize in other areas. I always defend that I can go far in matches. But even so, it is tiring and I will need a good afternoon of recovery to be ready.”
After finding himself in a position where he didn’t even know if he could play tennis again, Gray is taking every opportunity that comes his way.
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