MELBOURNE: Fans often have a skewed impression of what life must be like for sports stars, believing everything must always be perfectly fantastic.
But just like every other job in the world, there are good days and bad days, times when you love what you do and times when you just endure.
Madison Keys, the only American woman still representing the stars-and-stripes heading into the Australian Open quarterfinals, has experienced both sides of the equation.
Right now, playing tennis for a living is pure joy for the 17th-seeded Keys. That outlook was enhanced on Monday when she reached her fourth career Grand Slam quarterfinal with a 6-3, 6-2 win over eighth-seeded Caroline Garcia of France.
“I think the biggest thing for me is I’m just really enjoying myself out on the court, and I obviously missed a lot of tennis last year and wasn’t playing well at the beginning of this year,” said Keys, who lost her first match of the season to Johanna Konta in Brisbane. “I realized once I just let things happen and trusted myself, and just played my game, good things were happening and good outcomes were happening.
At 22, Keys’ understanding of the tour, and the demands entailed in being a major player, are more developed. She is also aware that fans view celebrities through rose-tinted glasses.
“I think sometimes that’s something that people don’t always appreciate,” she said. “It’s obviously an amazing job (playing tennis) to have, but there’s tough days and there is times when it’s not great. There’s times when things are going really well, and it’s just clicking, and it feels a little bit effortless.”