Donna Vekic: From Nearly Retiring to Wimbledon Semifinalist

Donna Vekic Wimbledon Fist Pump

Donna Vekic’s emotion was evident after her Wimbledon quarterfinal. She ended Lulu Sun’s historic run in three sets to progress to her maiden Grand Slam semifinal. Reaching a Wimbledon semifinal is an incredible achievement for any player. However, how close Vekic came to giving up the sport makes it even more remarkable.

Donna Vekic: From Nearly Retiring to Wimbledon Semifinalist

Vekic’s Immense Talent From a Young Age

Vekic’s early successes on the WTA Tour raised expectations. The Croat was just 16 years old when she made her first two finals at the Tashkent Open in September 2012 and the Birmingham Classic in June 2013. Her maiden WTA title came in April 2014 at the Malaysian Open. She overcame Dominika Cibulkova 5-7 7-5 7-6 in the final.

Although Vekic was consistent in the following years, she did not reach the heights many in the tennis world expected. By the end of 2020, her best result at a Grand Slam was a sole quarterfinal appearance at the 2019 US Open, where she lost to Belinda Bencic in straight sets. Vekic also claimed one more title at the Nottingham Open, although she did finish as the runner-up at four other tournaments.

Vekic Almost Quits Tennis on More Than One Occasion

Vekic underwent knee surgery after the 2021 Australian Open, which significantly impacted her level for several months. She failed to get past the second-round of a Grand Slam for almost two years after that. During that time, Vekic regularly thought about quitting tennis. Her struggles with form and fitness started consuming her, meaning the sport was no longer enjoyable.

The Croat’s resilience was rewarded with a strong start to the 2023 season. She progressed to her second major quarterfinal at the 2023 Australian Open, losing to the eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka at that stage. Other achievements in the first half of 2023 included reaching the fourth-round of a WTA 1000 event for the first time in Madrid and securing her fourth title in Monterrey.

Unfortunately, her struggles returned in the second half of 2023 and stretched into the opening months of 2024. This led to Vekic threatening to quit the sport again before this year’s French Open. The four-time WTA title winner struggled for motivation and did not feel she had the energy to keep going.

However, despite suffering a very tough third-round loss to Olga Danilovic in Paris, it pushed Vekic to keep going. Her reward for doing so came very quickly after that.

Vekic Becomes a Wimbledon Semifinalist

Vekic’s had the ideal preparation for Wimbledon with a final appearance at the Bad Homburg Open. Despite this, before the event began, she was not among the favourites for a deep run at SW19. Things looked bleak for the Croat after she lost the opening set in her first-round contest with Wang Xiyu. But fighting back to win that match 3-6 6-3 6-4 was the start of a special run for Vekic.

After comfortably seeing off Erika Andreeva in the next round, Vekic’s following three triumphs all came in a deciding set. She overcame Dayana Yastremska, Paula Badosa, who defeated Daria Kasatkina in the previous round, and Lulu Sun in the quarterfinal. The 28-year-old undoubtedly worked harder than any other player to make her first Grand Slam semifinal a reality.

Vekic’s next opponent is Jasmine Paolini, who defeated Emma Navarro to reach the semifinal. Overcoming the Italian will very tough, but regardless of the result, her run in London should give her renewed belief for the future.

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