detail-1 Martina Trevisan

Martina Trevisan




They may ply their trade in the shadow of the wave of Italian men surging to the top ranks of professional tennis, but there is an impressive group of Italian women on the rise as well.

And they are led by Martina Trevisan. The lefthander from Florence is the first to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci faced each other in the US Open final in September 2015, which she did with a glorious run to the final four at Roland Garros in June 2022.

Trevisan ended 2022 as the only Italian in the top 30 of the WTA Tour rankings. But she has company – four of her compatriots also are in the top 70.

Every tennis player’s journey is unique to them, but Trevisan’s is characterised by a remarkable story, making her ultimate success all the sweeter for the bumpy road she has navigated. Her journey is the inspiring story of a late bloomer who never gave up her dream, despite encountering countless obstacles.

The daughter of a tennis coach, Trevisan was a promising youngster who peaked at No 57 in the ITF junior rankings. She made the trip to Roland Garros just once, 13 years ago, winning two qualifying matches and losing in the first round of the junior girls’ draw to the American Christina McHale.

But life got extremely complicated after that. Trevisan had loved tennis her entire young life. Suddenly, that passion morphed into something else: an escape, a duty, a burden.

Due to some personal problems the young lefthander began feeling immense pressure to become a successful professional player – as if that could somehow magically heal irreparable rifts. She trained far more than was healthy; every hour spent outside a disintegrating household was better than the alternative.

And then, she rebelled against training at all.

Small in height (at 1.62m or 5ft 3in) but impressively muscular, Trevisan began to keenly feel the pressure society imposes on a sensitive teenage girl to become an idealised, unrealistic version of perfection. This resulted in eating disorders that led her away from tennis.

But just before the point of no return, she reached out for help. In time, she was able to make peace with herself and accept that she was not responsible for – nor could she change – everything going on around her.

And in the process, she rediscovered her love of tennis.

First, Trevisan shared her knowledge and experience as a coach. Then, she gradually returned to competition – a comeback made challenging by years away from competition.

It took a long, long time. She was 14 when she first appeared in the top 1000 in the WTA rankings, 16 when she fell off the charts – and nearly 21 when she finally reappeared.

She was nearly 25 when she broke into the top 200, and 26 when she qualified for her first career Grand Slam main draw at the 2020 Australian Open.

And then the pandemic hit, shutting tennis down for five months.

Undaunted, Trevisan was ranked No 159 when she entered the qualifying event at the unusual late-season edition of Roland Garros in the autumn of 2020.

Before acres of empty seats and in bone-numbing temperatures, she won seven straight matches. She qualified for the main draw, and then defeated Coco Gauff, Maria Sakkari and Kiki Bertens on the way to the quarterfinals, where she lost to the eventual champion Iga Swiatek.

That supreme effort put the Italian’s career into another gear. And it brought her to mainstream attention. It wasn’t just her crafty, effective lefthanded game. The incandescent, omnipresent movie-star smile was concrete evidence that she had come full circle. She looked to be soaking in and enjoying every single moment.

And then Trevisan showed that effort was no accident by doing even better in 2022 in Paris, making it to the semifinals.

So what’s in store for the future?

Her clay-court prowess is undeniable. But in 2022, Trevisan showed promising signs away from the clay as she posted a number of solid victories on hard courts.

Her competitive fire, variety and speed about the court are assets that can work on any surface. The confidence she will have gained should stand her in good stead as she looks to match her 2020 and 2022 accomplishments – and perhaps take another step towards the top.