Tennis is a global game, but sometimes you just can't replicate the feeling of playing at home. This week on the Podcast, Kamau Murray had the chance to chat in person with two people who represent what Charleston is all about.

Shelby Rogers is a veteran of the pro game, while Emma Navarro is a newcomer. They've had different trajectories, experiences, and even goals. But they're both locals when the tour hits Charleston. The support they get is unwavering from the South Carolina faithful, who take great pride in their tennis conquests. From winning a national title as a freshman in Navarro's case, to shocking the world at the US Open as Rogers did in rallying to beat world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty.


"I was playing really well last year, but I kept running into the one person that was beating me," Rogers said in reference to her four consecutive losses against Barty in 2021. "[At the] US Open I saw the draw, and I was like, 'I want to play Ash Barty again and I want to beat her. Like, I want to show her what the USA is all about!'"

And that Rogers did, coming back from 5-2 down in the third set to win the match—and become the answer to a trivia question. She was the last player to defeat the Aussie before she called it a career in March.

Rogers grew up on the Charleston clay, and while the red surface is a bit different she credits those youthful experiences with setting herself up for success at the pro level. It's a mindset, she explained to Murray about playing on clay, and you have to fight through the moments of despair and misfortune.

That misfortune also includes facing players you don't want to in the draw. When asked who scares her on tour outside of the top-ranked players, Rogers quickly mentioned Kaia Kanepi. And wouldn't you know who she drew in the first round, in her hometown of all places?

Those cruel tennis gods were at it again.


For Navarro, her path includes the scholastic route. She enrolled at Virginia in the fall of 2020, and promptly dismantled the NCAA. She lost only one match, avenged it with authority in the NCAA tournament, and was crowned the singles national champion. Despite a fairytale year on the college scene, her heart still belongs in Charleston.

"It's awesome to be able to play for such a cool city and great group of people," Navarro affirmed. "I'm lucky to have come from here."

The conversation with Navarro hit several interesting points, from her first experiences traveling to pro tournaments, to what motivates her to keep pushing and dedicating herself to her craft.

Seeing is often believing, and the people of Charleston have double vision when they look at local success stories. Two of their own have made a name in the tennis world, and on this week's Podcast with Kamau Murray, they each explain why it's still full steam ahead on the court.