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"Living Through the Racket"

Buy the BookIn her honest, unsparing memoir, LIVING THROUGH THE RACKET: How I Survived Leukemia…and Rediscovered My Self, former tennis star, Corina Morariu, opens up publicly for the first time about her cancer survival, and how what brought her to the brink of death ultimately saved her life. Corina was at the height of her professional tennis career as the #1 ranked doubles player in the world when she met her fiercest opponent: Leukemia.

Corina Morariu won the women’s doubles title at Wimbledon in 1999 and the mixed doubles title at the 2001 Australian Open, before she was diagnosed with an advanced form of acute myelogenous leukemia in 2001. Caught completely by surprise, she underwent chemotherapy and made a full recovery, becoming the Women’s Tennis Association ‘Comeback Player of the Year’ in 2003.


Your questions answered by Corina
Q) Was it intimidating to play doubles with Lindsay Davenport being that she was one of the best players in the world? Greg Knapp - Pensacola, FL

CM) At first, absolutely! I write about that in the book. When I started playing with Lindsay, I had never been past the 3rd round of a Grand Slam tournament in any event, and she had already won a Grand Slam singles title. Initially, I was intimidated and extremely nervous about trying to hold up my end of the bargain. I owe her a great deal for initiating the partnership and believing in my ability as a player. The more we played together, the more comfortable I got, and the more I started believing in myself. It didn't hurt that we got off to a good start by winning the first tournament we played together---- Wimbledon!

Q) How did beating cancer influence the way you played and thought about tennis? Jen Finch - Tempe, AZ

CM) I had a complex, love/hate relationship with tennis before cancer--the sport had pretty much been my life since age 5-- and that didn't necessarily change immediately afterwards. No one thought I would play tennis professionally again, and no one pressured me to. It was my own decision. Beating cancer and returning to tennis on my terms was a huge positive step for me. I approached my career with extreme gratitude and a newfound perspective, and that helped both in tennis and in life. But, the challenge for me was dealing with how the cancer affected my career in terms of success. As an athlete, so much of your self worth rides on your ability to win (or at least that is how I felt). After the cancer and two subsequent shoulder surgeries, my results were nowhere near what they had been before my illness. I was forced to figure out who I was without success in tennis. That took some time, but it was a valuable lesson to learn. I can now see and appreciate tennis for all of the wonderful things it gave me, but I realize that my success (or lack thereof) in the sport doesn't define me, and never did. 

Q) Do you think tennis helped you beat cancer? Tamara Karnes - Flint, MI

CM) Definitely. One of the things I love about tennis, and sports in general, is that they parallel life. You learn so many great lessons from sports and you develop skills that can serve you in all facets of life- work ethic, mental toughness, managing emotions,enduring physical and emotional pain, and handling adversity. I drew on all these things while I was fighting my cancer, I just had a different opponent. 

Q) What would you most want to be remembered as: a grand slam doubles champion, a successful tv commentator, or a cancer survivor.  Which are you the most proud of?  Steve Smith - Atlanta, GA 

CM) Cancer survivor, hands down. 

Q) Aside from tennis, what brings you joy? Geoff Graham - Sacramento, CA

CM) Being home and spending time with friends and family. I have spent so much of my life on the road, living out of a suitcase, that quality time at home with the people I love most is something I will always appreciate. 

Q) Could Ms. Morariu, discuss or address the most common misconception of cancer patients that she herself encountered? Shelley Waters - Canton, OH

CM) The biggest misconception I encountered is one of the reasons I wrote the book. Many people think (as I once did) that the diagnosis and treatment of cancer is the hardest part. With some that might be true, but with me, the real challenge was figuring out who I was in the aftermath of the disease. For me, the emotional wounds left by the disease took longer to heal than the physical ones. The ordeal didn't stop when I left the hospital and went into remission. In retrospect, that's when the real ordeal of forging a new identity actually began. A cancer diagnosis turns your life upside down and it often takes time to make sense of the fallout.  The cancer redefines you in some way or more accurately, it opens the way for you to redefine yourself. That process can be difficult, but in the end, extremely rewarding. 

Q) What tournament did you always look forward to playing and why? Dave Adams - Long Beach, CA 

CM) Most players will tell you that they look forward to playing tournaments in which they have done well in the past, and I am no exception. As far as big tournaments go, I always enjoyed playing in Indian Wells. I had some success there, and I loved the atmosphere and the area. I also looked forward to playing a small tournament in Bol, Croatia. It was the only singles event I ever won, and I made the finals twice as well, so that is probably the main reason I loved it as much as I did! But I also enjoyed the country, the people, the food, and the intimate feel of that event. 

Q) What do you think has been the greatest change in tennis over the past 10 years? James Hobarth - Madison, WI

CM) The changes I've seen have been positive and negative. The game has really evolved and become even more powerful and athletic. The flip side of that is that there is less versatility and variety. I sometimes feel we are missing the contrasting styles we saw 10 years ago, and different styles often produce the most intriguing matches. 

Q) Who do you look forward to watch playing now? Matt Traynor - Miami, FL

CM) I have really enjoyed watching Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters. I love a good comeback story. I have also enjoyed seeing Justine back out on the court because she is a great example of what I feel has been missing in the women's game lately (see above answer!).

Q) Did you find it difficult to write and did you review other tennis biographies first? Betsy Allen - Austin, TX

CM) Yes, I found it difficult to write for a number of reasons, but I really didn't review many tennis biographies. I had read James Blake's book, which I really enjoyed, but I didn't use it as a model for my book. I really wanted to carve out my own path and address the issues I faced not only as a tennis player, but also as a cancer survivor, daughter, divorcee, etc. Revisiting some of the most difficult times in my life and putting those experiences into words was a daunting task, but I truly hope my story is one the people can relate to on an intimate level.