Tennis star quit sport for university during mental health struggles before making U-turn | Tennis | Sport

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Amanda Anisimova was back in action this week, eight months after taking an indefinite break from tennis to protect her mental health. The former world No. 21 did a semester at university and started painting during her hiatus before deciding to return to competition. After a run to the second round of the ASB Classic, Anisimova explained how beneficial it was to leave the sport.

Anisimova rocked the tennis world last May when she announced that she would be leaving tennis due to burnout. “I’ve really been struggling with my mental health and burnout since the summer of 2022,” the American wrote on Instagram. “It’s become unbearable being at tennis tournaments. At this point, my priority is my mental well-being and taking a break for some time.”

While the 22-year-old didn’t specify a time frame for her break, it looked to be a long one when she enrolled at Nova Southeastern University in August. But Anisimova made a U-turn after picking up a racket four months into her hiatus and decided to return at the beginning of the 2024 season. She beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in her first match back before losing to fifth seed Marie Bouzkova.

“It was just nice to take a break from the chaotic lifestyle of a tennis player and reset as a human,” Anisimova told the WTA upon her return. “I think that break and having more than two weeks off for the first time in my life was just very refreshing. I gained a lot of energy back in myself and happiness. I slowed my life down and that’s something that I really needed.”

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In September, shortly after enrolling in university, Anisimova decided to begin training properly again and only ended up spending a semester in Florida. After experiencing an “unbearable” feeling at tennis tournaments, Anisimova has adjusted her habits to make life easier on the tour.

Now ranked at No. 373 in the world due to her inactivity, the American continued: “I’ve grown a lot and matured over the last year in how I want to prepare myself, my training style, doing everything right. Pushing myself as hard as I can, taking recovery seriously, I want to do my best every single day.

“It was hard to balance that in the past. But I feel that now I’m able to do that more, starting with just keeping my hotel room organized, trying to make it more like home. I’m trying not to live out of a suitcase. Now I put everything away. ‘Let’s get settled here and hopefully you’ll stay for a long time,’ having that mindset.”

Anisimova has entered the upcoming Australian Open with her protected ranking of No. 61 in the world. Last year she crashed out to Marta Kostyuk in the first round. But the American has good memories in Melbourne, taking out defending champion Naomi Osaka in 2022.

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