Maria Sakkari opens up about her emotional breakdown and why she decided against taking a break

Shahida Jacobs
Maria Sakkari in action

Barely two weeks after Maria Sakkari broke down on television, the Greek star is set to return to action following support from family, friends and colleagues.

Former world No 3 Sakkari has endured a difficult 2023 season as she lost in the first round of the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Her surprise 6-4, 6-4 defeat to Rebeka Masarova at Flushing Meadows at the end of August resulted in a breakdown during the post-match press conference with the interview streamed on social media.

An emotional Sakkari told journalists: “Maybe I have to take a break. I don’t know what I’m going to do, I’m suffering on the court.

“I’m trying to do everything to improve myself. When I am not affecting the match, it allows my opponents to play well.”

In the end, the 28-year-old opted against taking a break from the sport and she will return to action at San Diego Open on Wednesday.

And the reason why she opted not to walk away from the sport for a couple of months?

It was because of the love and support she received from just about everyone.

“I didn’t know it was being recorded. I didn’t know it was going to get as big as it got, especially back home. The amount of messages, love, and support from people back home and from a lot of my colleagues was very nice,” Sakkari explained.

“I’m very thankful that I have people on the tour that support me like that. That was the main reason why I decided I want to keep going. They gave me a lot of strength. That was one of the nicest things I’ve felt in my career.”

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Sakkari is clearly seeing life from a different set of eyes these days as she also backed newly crowned US Open champion Coco Gauff’s comments about dealing with pressure.

“I mean, there are people struggling to feed their families, people who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from, people who have to pay their bills. That’s real pressure, that’s real hardship, that’s real life,” the American said.

Sakkari, who has slipped to No 9 in the WTA Rankings, also sees the bigger picture.

“There are a lot worse things than losing a tennis match… sometimes we’re too focused on losing a match or something going wrong in our tennis career and we don’t look at the outside,” she said.

“There are people that are homeless, people that are sick… parents are losing their children, people that lose their siblings… I can name things that are so much worse than losing a tennis match. Coco is actually very right. I couldn’t agree with her more.

“She’s very mature, she’s a very nice person. She has her feet on the ground, so she knows what’s happening in life. She’s right… it’s just that everyone focuses on their own problem. For us, losing a match is big. But compared to the outside, it’s something very small.”