Former world No. 35 Cici Bellis had hoped to finally be ready to return to action for next week’s WTA 125K event in Houston.
And, on Tuesday, the tournament announced she would be the recipient of a wild card – but not into the main draw.
Bellis will be in the qualifying, which has to tell you she knows there is a lot of rust to be shaken off, or that she might not be quite ready.
Still, you have to start somewhere. And this couldn’t be better news.
Bellis and three high-profile wild-card recipients into the main draw are an interesting crew.
All of them have struggled with injury or health woes – and all are a testament to determination and perseverance.
Bellis, of course, is the most notable because she’s been out for more than a year and a half and was such a promising young prospect.
But the other three have had their own travails.
Coco Vandeweghe, who missed the better part of a year with a foot injury, continues her trek on the minor-league circuit in the U.S. at this season’s end.
Danielle Collins, who recently revealed she had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, will play for the first time since losing in the first round of the Beijing Premier Mandatory some six weeks ago.
Finally, 34-year-old Bethanie Mattek-Sands, whose return from a horrific knee injury has been inspiring, hasn’t yet given up on singles and also receives a main-draw wild card along with a couple of standout college players, Katarina Jokic, Linda Huang and Sumit Sarkar.
Bellis, who is still only 20, reached No. 35 in Aug. 2017
Vandeweghe, 27, reached No. 10 this exact week two years ago.
Collins, whose ranking still sits at No. 31, got to No. 23 after her semifinal effort at the Australian Open in January.
Mattek-Sands got to No. 30 in singles in 2011, and has been No. 1 in doubles. Since her return from a second knee surgery, despite not having a regular partner, she has raised her ranking from No. 100 just before Wimbledon to its current No. 24.