Departed astronaut Sally Ride nearly became tennis pro
The first American woman to enter space, Sally Ride, died yesterday at age 61. She was a trailblazer as an astronaut, but what's not so widely known is that she nearly pursued a career in professional tennis. Ultimately, she opted out: "But fortunately, I took a long, hard look at my forehand and realized that I was not going to make a fortune with that forehand," she said in a 2006 interview for Achievement.org. Here's a bit of that Q&A:
You were also a tennis player, weren't you?
SR: "I was a good tennis player. I really enjoyed being outside. I really enjoyed playing sports and started playing tennis when I was about 11 and really got hooked on it, played in tournaments, first locally in Southern California, and then later, nationally, and spent every summer playing pretty serious tennis"
Did you ever consider that to be a career?
SR: "Actually, I did, much to the dismay of my parents, I think, although they were both very supportive of tennis. When I headed off to college, I made the decision that tennis wasn't going to be the central point in my life."
ThePostGame.com reports that Ride was just that, serious about tennis:
"At age 10, Ride began being coached by Alice Marble, the former world No. 1 player who won the U.S. Open four times and Wimbledon twice. ... Ride even received personal encouragement to turn professional at age 22 by Billie Jean King."
That article includes a photo of BJK and Ride at the 2006 California Hall of Fame event. Billie Jean herself took to Twitter yesterday to speak to the loss of Ride:
Sally Ride,an icon,a friend who will be missed.She has been making a difference with Sally Ride Science Academy.— Billie Jean King (@BillieJKing) July 23, 2012
Here's to you, Ms. Ride. Forever flying high.
—Jonathan Scott (@jonscott9)