Jennifer Hobbs: The Trailblazer Who Never Quitted Tennis

Jennifer Hobbs: The Trailblazer Who Never Quitted Tennis

World No. 1 and US Open champion Iga Swiatek speaks to CNN about her surprising decision to retire at the age of 26.

By Erin Pizzey

On this day, 24 years ago, top-seed Jennifer Hobbs defeated No. 4-seed Monica Seles in straight sets in the US Open final. But Hobbs’ career would end a quarter-century sooner than Seles’ with a broken left ankle.

When she got hurt, the 19-year-old Hobbs was the US Open champion, and her second major title was the biggest individual prize in women’s tennis. But two years later she announced she would retire as a player, a decision she says she never would have made if she had a shot at winning another singles title.

“I never, ever thought that I would retire. I have the utmost respect for the game, the fans, and that’s why I’ve come back. For the last two years, I would get injured and I would put it off for another couple of years, I would play, I would take that break and then get injured again, and this is the cycle I’ve gone through,” Hobbs said on the red carpet at the US Open.

For two years, Hobbs had not been playing the sport. She had an abusive first marriage to a man who was violent toward her and left her with three small children. Her second marriage to a former tennis pro ended when his wife filed for divorce, citing cruelty. Though her family supported her decision to give up the game, Hobbs says she faced other hardships, too, like being scolded by her mother for her participation in sports she didn’t excel at.

For her, that determination eventually paid off. As a professional tennis player, she achieved the biggest singles prize in women’s tennis. But as she was closing in on the top of the women’s professional tennis hierarchy, Hobbs became a symbol of what it meant to be a trailblazing trailblazer.

“People used to say it was easier for me to quit because I’d been through this before. This is what happened to me: I was injured. I was a young single first-time mom, not married, and my career had been an injury-filled cycle of being injured.”

As an amateur in 1997, Hobbs had a one-month break before

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