After Canadian Rebecca Marino’s impressive return this year, after five years away, she should be in Australia in January to play in her first Grand Slam tournament since … the 2013 Australian Open.
Marino’s ranking was down to No. 426 at that point, and she lost 6-3, 6-0 to Shuai Peng in the first round.
A month later, after losing in the first round in Memphis, she was out of the game until returning earlier this year.
It’s been a huge effort that began at the lowest levels of the ITF Futures circuit.
And in the opportunities we’ve had to watch her, it brought bank memories of some of the great matches she’s played, and why she was in the top 40 despite the struggles that became public a few years later.
Grand Slam debut in NYC
Marino’s first attempt at qualifying for a Grand Slam level was the 2009 US Open, when she was 18. She lost in the second round to Vesna Dolonc of Serbia.
Then, in 2010, she lost in the first round of qualifying at each of the first three Grand Slams.
In the first round of the Australian Open, the 19-year-old was beaten 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 to Angelique Kerber. (Whatever happened to her, anyway?)
But it was coming along. At the home-country Rogers Cup in August, Marino reached the final round of qualifying, losing 6-4, 6-4 to Ekaterina Makarova.
And then, in New York, it came together.
Marino was ranked No. 179 going in.
She was barely tested in winning three qualifying rounds, the last over countrywoman Sharon Fichman, to reach her first Grand Slam main draw.
There, she played Ksenia Pervak, a feisty Russian.
(We managed to rescue some video from an old Photobucket account. It didn’t survive that well, and luckily now that we shoot for TV the videography skills have improved. But it’s still fun to see).
Marino won 7-5 in the third set.
And that’s when she first began to open some eyes.
Big time on Ashe vs. Venus
Her second-round match game against Venus Williams, on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The big time.
While Williams won it, 7-6 (3), 6-3, Marino gave as good as she got. And her serve and big forehand definitely got her noticed.
After that, she went on a roll.
Marino reached the quarterfinals at the Quebec City WTA upsetting Marion Bartoli in the second round. And then she ruled on the fall women’s pro circuit.
Marino won the Saguenay Challenger. Look at the list of conquests.
Then she followed that up with wins at the Kansas City and Troy (AL) Challengers. After that, she reached the semifinals at the Toronto Challenger, where she defeated Caroline Garcia in the quarterfinals.
By the time the season was over, Marino was one spot out of the top 100.
When she arrived at the 2011 Australian Open, the Canadian was straight into the main draw. And she played a crazy-good match against Francesca Schiavone in the second round, which she lost 9-7 in the third set on a steamy hot day.
In 2019, she’ll be back again.
What a great story.
Here are some pics.