Tennis star Marino happy with decision to walk away
Published Thursday, February 21, 2013 8:34AM EST
Canadian tennis star Rebecca Marino says she doesn’t expect everyone to understand why she had to “walk away” from tennis, but she feels confident that it was the right thing to do.
Marino announced Wednesday that while she is not retiring from tennis, she is stepping away from competition as she deals with clinical depression, burnout and the effects of bullying from online critics.
She told CTV’s Canada AM Thursday that she knew the time had come for her to take a break.
“It was the right time. I know that might be a little difficult for people to understand, but for me personally, I feel it’s the right thing to do,” she said.
“I’m dealing with depression and that’s had an impact on my tennis career as well. So maybe it’s a combined thing of a lack of passion, and depression, and cyberbullying that’s accumulated and that’s made me make this decision.”
Marino, 22, who has once ranked No. 38 in the world and who has been in training since she was in grade school, told reporters Wednesday she burned out from all the pressure, the travelling, and the time away from her family.
The Vancouverite told Canada AM that she finally admitted to herself that she no longer feels the passion for the game that she should.
“I feel I’m not quite as passionate as I need to be and I’m not prepared to do the kind of work that I need to get to the top level,” she said.
“I’m being completely honest with myself that I need to start a new chapter in my life.”
Marino says while she became “very sensitive” to the hurtful comments made about her online, that’s not the main reason she’s walking away. Nevertheless, she thinks many don’t understand the effects such comments can have on self-esteem.
“Cyberbullying is actually quite a scary thing and it’s something that people don’t talk about enough,” she said.
“I know I’m not the only athlete who’s had harsh and venomous comments and I just want to raise awareness about that.”
Marino told reporters she’s been suffering from depression for about six years, but only sought help for it about two years ago. She described that during the worst of her depression, she had a “smothered feeling of grey” and couldn’t muster the motivation to get out of bed and put on clothes, let alone play tennis. But since she’s sought help, she’s feeling a little better.
“I see a therapist, take medication and I have a great support group around me,” she told CTV.
Marino said her family is sad to see her leave the sport she once loved so much, but they’re also relieved she’s no longer sacrificing her happiness for tennis.
“There’s sorrow in the family as well as in me. But there’s also joy. So it’s bittersweet sort of thing.”
She said at this point, she’s “definitely thinking” her competitive days over. But Marino also said she’s not entirely ruling out the possibility of returning to tennis sometime in the future.
“At this point, I have no clue. I’m just a few days into stepping back so it’s hard for me to say,” she said.
As for others thinking about joining a sport that will require a lot of self-sacrifice, Marino advises them to be sure they truly love playing.
“I think for those who are looking at this as a career, especially those who are young and just getting into it, I’d say do it if you love it, but also be honest with yourself. Only do it if you’re the one who wants to do it.”