Depression, Cyber-Bullying Force Marino to Quit Tennis

Dale Perth | Updated Feb 22, 2013

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It’s tough enough to succeed at the highest level in anything, especially when you’re dealing with depression: being harrassed and bullied just adds that much more stress. That combination proved to be too much for Rebecca Marino to bear, so she has decided to walk away from her pro tennis career.

At the U.S. Open in 2010 Marino played against Venus Williams, who was impressed by her opponent’s booming serve. Marino rose in the WTA world ranking to No. 38 by the next year. The whole time, she said she was battling an illness which remains largely misunderstood.

After taking most of 2012 off, Marino returned in September and won a tournament in North Carolina a month later. As many people do these days, she spent a lot of time interacting via social media, specifically on Facebook and Twitter. But some of the comments and feedback she received were negative and nasty, which exacerbated her existing depression.

“I have had days where I haven’t been able to get out of bed,” Marino noted in a teleconference where she announced her decision. “This is one of the most difficult things I have ever done, but it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done … If I can open up about my struggles to the public, I hope I can give someone else the courage to open up and get the help they deserve.

“If I can share my story and change one person’s outlook on life, I’ve reached my goal,” Marino added. “Depression is nothing to be ashamed of … but it is pertinent that you talk to someone about what you are going through.”

The 22-year-old Vancouverite is being praised for showing courage in abandoning a pursuit she obviously loved. She has now closed her Facebook and Twitter accounts, but it is unclear whether she would ever return to competitive tennis. Perhaps that’s for the best: there’s no point in nailing a door shut if you might want to open it again. Keeping your options open is a sensible idea, so Marino shouldn’t be blamed if she should want to pick up a racquet again at some point in the future.

For now, she’s getting help for her condition, is considering going back to school and looking forward to a normal life surrounded by family and friends. Marino is taking time out for herself, and that’s what she needs. It’s a lesson many of us still have to learn: how you live is more important than what you play.

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