Rebecca Marino on retiring from tennis: "Depression is nothing to be ashamed of"
“Social media has also taken its toll on me."
So says Canadian WTA pro Rebecca Marino, all of 22 years old but battling demons in the form of a very personal and powerful depression ongoing in her life. She says it's one that makes it incredibly difficult to rise from bed on some days. And I believe it. Winston Churchill, a major presence in 20th century history, was also a depressed individual. He referred to the clouds or the darkness that enshrouded his life as a "black dog." So we see that some highly influential, powerful, and well-meaning people have been and can be afflicted by depression. It's crippling, and it's all too real, just as we are all too human.
Some will look at Marino's case and think that she's weak, that she should know better and have perspective and cope with whatever setbacks or downtrodden times she has, on and off court, on- and offline. The fact is, she is strong in speaking out now, in conferencing with reporters on the telephone to tell them why she's stepping away. She finds it important to not just go gently into that good night—and everyone is rooting for her, everyone prays it's a truly good time away—but to explain why she is doing so.
Rebecca Marino is courageous. She is strong, and strong is beautiful. She is talented. (Recall how she gave Venus Williams a good go of it at the 2010 U.S. Open.) "Now I know what it's like to play myself," Venus said then.)
Rebecca Marino is going to recover her life and return, whether simply to her city, her society, or also to the sport of tennis, and be an important figure in the lives of others and in the culture at large. And even if she doesn't become famous by worldly standards, there's a quiet, subtly eternal grace about doing well by one's own health and in that way helping others to profit from the experience. Her life is already an embarrassment of riches in this way: She has opened up the important issue of depression and psychological wellness in a sport that is so often a solitary game of mental steel versus flimsy caving.
Here at the Daily Spin, a spot that usually chides players playfully or makes light of red-carpet appearances, fashion, commercials, sponsorships, and players' comments to and about each other, this time it's different. This time it's gotten to be too much, in terms of social media-based turmoil, for one of the players that we writers seek to cover, from one angle or, ultimately, every angle.
My own note to the young Canadian now: You have my most sincere empathy. And the collective's sole message for Marino: We wish you every happiness. We know you will come back stronger, whatever that's to look like.
Got a thought, a tip, or an argument to make? Hit me on Twitter @jonscott9.