It was already Tuesday in Sydney, Australia, but Jessica Pegula was watching ‘Monday Night Football’ on her mobile phone on January 3rd as she waited to take to the court for the United Cup. Suddenly, she felt the same nauseating fear that many football fans had that day, but perhaps with more resonance.
With a small device, she witnesses Buffalo Bills safety Dumar Hamlin collapse on the lawn, a desperate moment as paramedics try to resuscitate him after his heart stops and put him in an ambulance. witnessed
She understands how important every second is to Hamlin, who ultimately made a remarkable recovery. Her mother, Kim Pegula, president and owner of Bills, along with her husband Terry Pegula, suffered a cardiac arrest in her sleep just over a year ago. Kim Pegula’s recovery has been a slow and arduous process, made even more difficult by the loss of oxygen she suffered during it.
Jessica Pegula was very upset and considered not playing in the United Cup, but in the end she did. A few days later, at the Australian Open, he wore the number 3 patch on his jersey in honor of Hamlin. Coincidentally, her ranking at the time was her No. 3, but considering everything she’s been through in her six months thus far, she’s been an amazing achievement.
The family watched Kim Pegula’s hospital bedside for days last June. Jessica left to play at Wimbledon with mixed feelings and knowing it was what her mother wanted. Overwhelmed by her worries, exhausted for weeks and suffering from sinusitis, she lost in the third round.
But somehow, as her mother made steady progress, Pegula continued to play the best tennis of her career at age 28 (she turned 29 in February). She reached the semifinals at the Canadian Open, reached her first quarterfinal at the US Open, and her third major quarterfinal of the year. She won the Guadalajara tournament last October and reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in January. Ranked 4th in the world, she ranks among the top American women.
On Sunday, she defeated Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-3 in the fourth round to secure her final major quarterfinal spot. She is currently in the quarter-finals of each of the four Grand Slam tournaments and, as the No. 4 seed, has an excellent chance of reaching the semi-finals of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time if she can beat Marketa Vondrusova, who is ranked 42nd in the world. can be , on tuesday.
Still, the last 12 months of traveling and being away from her mother have been tough. Her mother urges Pegula to keep fighting as usual.
“She didn’t want me to do anything else,” Pegula said Sunday after punching Tsurenko. “She thinks she wants me to keep winning, keep competing, and she want me to keep putting myself out there.”
Pegula explained how her mother, who along with Terry Pegula owns the NHL’s Buffalo Sabers, shaped her tennis career without being arrogant. Her mother left most of the tennis to others, but she said she helped her brainstorm ideas to improve and survive in the complex and demanding world of professional tennis. rice field. She was always inspired by her mother’s hard work and her example of independent strength. Now, she says, her mother is inspired by what she looks like on the court.
In a February article for The Players’ Tribune, Pegula first revealed the events surrounding her mother’s illness and recovery, outlining how she has continued to play. On Sunday, after their recent wins, she spoke about the strength and motivation they draw from each other.
“She wants to see me on TV,” Jessica Pegula said on Sunday. “Seeing me still playing will encourage her to recover.”
and playing well. Pegula, who has been unable to move up the order due to injury but is now in good health, has regained some healthy stability and is currently ranked No. 4 with the newly crowned Big 3 (No. Sabalenka, No) is located right behind. 3 Elena Rybakina.
Pegula has not expressed any external resentment for not being included in the ranks, but has made it clear that she is trying to dispel the perception that the top of the women’s tour is a three-way street.
“I definitely want to kill the three major parties if possible,” she said. “It’s definitely going to be a goal. I mean, they’ve played really well.”
All of these women are at least four years younger than Pegula. When asked if her experience led to her recent success, she insisted her health was more important. Her career has been stalled by her knee injury and hip surgery, making her rehab in the gym a different experience than on the court.
She also said her consistency is no accident. When she reached her first major quarterfinal at the 2021 Australian Open, she was determined not to waste everything at her next tournament in Doha, Qatar. Ranked 44th at the time, she needed three wins in the qualifying rounds to qualify for the tournament, but she ended up winning six in a row and losing to fourth-placed Petra Kvitova in the finals. rice field.
“I don’t want to be the kind of person who makes it to the quarter-finals and then loses in the first round,” she said, adding, “It gave me a lot of confidence.”
She has now reached the quarterfinals in five of her last seven Grand Slam tournaments, joining Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Sloane Stevens and Madison Keys in four in the last 25 years. He became the fifth American player to reach the quarterfinals in all. She defeated 16-year-old Russian phenomenon Mira Andreeva in three sets in Monday’s quarterfinals.
For Pegula, every tournament is a chance to return to the United States and see her mother when time permits. But soon after, the hard-court season began and she was back on the court with Kim Pegula watching. Jessica Pegula said her mother didn’t like being pampered and she didn’t like being pestered.
“She was like, ‘Do your own thing,'” she says.