If there's one thing Cici Bellis exudes, it's positivity. Most people never excel at something as brilliantly and as quickly as she did with the sport of tennis, and yet due injuries out of her control, a promising career was snatched away from her.

But rather than lament on what could've been, Bellis smiles at the memories of what happened. And as she explained on our chat on the Tennis Channel Inside-In Podcast, she can't wait to tackle life after tennis.


Bellis appeared on the national tennis radar in 2014, when she was just 15 years old and gained entry into the US Open main draw after winning the USTA Girls 18s National Championship. She then defeated 12th seeded established pro Dominka Cibulkova, becoming the youngest player to win a match in the tournament in 18 years.

"I had never been in a situation like that," Bellis recalled. "There was so much going on, I was having eight hours of press every day." And while college was still the goal for this Bay Area girl (she was committed to Stanford), a third-round run two years later in Flushing Meadows changed plans. It was time to turn pro.

What followed was one of the most consistent seasons across both tours, as Bellis reached a career ranking of No. 35 and won the WTA Newcomer of the Year award in 2017. She entered the following year oozing with momentum, before the injury bug hit. Bellis would be sidelined not months but years, with a genetic wrist issue that never was able to return to full strength.

After a memorable return to tennis in 2020 that saw her win two matches at the Australian Open, physical ailments continued to be a problem. Bellis decided to walk away from the game at the tender age of 22, an unfortunate case of "what could've been."


Yet despite the bad hand she was dealt, Bellis remains upbeat and above all else, proud.

"I definitely wish I could've done a bit more and had a bit more time," the now former pro lamented. "But I'm definitely happy with what I'm doing now and that I had the career I did."

And what she's doing now is following all of her passions. She went back to school, through the WTA's tremendous partnership with Indiana University East, and graduated earlier this month. She's pursuing her Master's Degree, and is currently serving as an investment analyst for leAD Sports & Health Tech Partners. She's excited to get out of bed every morning, and never had the crisis of life after the pros that plague so many former athletes.

Bellis has also slid into the broadcasting booth, making a successful foray into tennis commentary. She played most of the current crop of players, and can relate to the ins and outs of professional tennis in 2022. This is still her era, and much like Tony Romo's ascent in football commentating, Bellis is fresh off the court and completely locked into the latest techniques and strategies. It's impossible not be happy for her, for someone who lost one aspect of their life but never let it affect the others.

We all wish she was still out on the court, hitting winners and making fans cheer. But her real success story just might be the flawless transition she's made from tennis to society. I was happy to have the chance to chat with her on Inside-In, and I'm inspired to attack each day with the same level of positivity she possesses.