Throwback Thursday: former tennis star Rebecca Marino

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Canada's Rebecca Marino returns to Serbia's Ana Ivanovic at Birmingham in June, 2011. (ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images)
Canada's Rebecca Marino returns to Serbia's Ana Ivanovic at Birmingham in June, 2011. (ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images)

A tall, familiar-looking figure was in front of the entrance to the Thunderbird Arena last month, as Canada hosted Japan in the first round of the Davis Cup.

That she had a racquet in her hand, albeit a kids' sized one, just made her even easier to identify.

Just a couple of years after breaking into the top 40 on the WTA Tour, Rebecca Marino is long removed from it all. She walked away, to find a happy life. The anxiety and depression she had silently suffered from since she was a teenager was only exacerbated by the pressures of competing, and the barrage of reaction from the brave social-media devotees who will happily wish you a painful, permanent demise when you commit the grievous sin of losing a tennis match.

For her life, she walked away. And here she was, doing something you probably wouldn't have expected from her in her playing days, when she was quiet and shy, dealing with her own thing while trying to keep a happy face on.

Marino was always an accidental top tennis player anyway. Her junior career was anything but top-shelf, and she wasn't one of those little prodigies who hit the fancy academy scene from an early age and are groomed for stardom. She was headed to college, when suddenly she won enough matches on the pro tour that she found herself in the top 150 in the rankings.

If you can get there without even putting pedal to metal, you obviously owe it to yourself to go down that path and see where it leads. At the very least, you don't want to look back later and have regrets.

And so she did. Now that it was her job, Marino's discipline and work ethic jumped a few notches. She improved; she got fitter and therefore faster – as fast as she could, not being blessed with natural speed and being so tall. Her serve and forehand were in the image of the men's game; you didn't find many forehands as lethal or serves as powerful on the WTA Tour.

But she wasn't happy. And so, she walked away.

Marino is now doing what she probably would have been doing a few years ago, had the tennis planet not aligned the way they did. She's studying English literature at UBC, and on the side she's working with the tennis program and coaching kids. For a couple of summers, she worked in marketing for the Vancouver minor-league baseball team, something she said she enjoyed quite a bit.

That's what she was doing outside the arena - inviting kids to come and try a little tennis on the mini court, with the foam balls. You wonder how many of them even knew who she was, or what she had accomplished. If they didn't, it probably didn't bother her a bit.

For Throwback Thurday, here are some pics from throughout Marino's short career, from the juniors to the pros.

 

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