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A Dream Deferred, Almost Too Long
LAKE MARY, Fla. — During a doubles lesson at an Orlando sports club this month, Gigi Fernandez dragged her tennis racket along the service line. She told the women gathered around her to picture the line as the edge of a cliff: they stepped beyond it at their peril.
Fernandez always seemed perfectly positioned on the court, winning 17 Grand Slam doubles titles and reaching No. 1 before retiring in 1997 at age 33. It was only when she tried to have a baby in her 40s that she found herself on the wrong side of the line.
The odds of becoming pregnant plunge for women over 35, but Fernandez, whose grace at the net was often overshadowed by a trigger temper, forged ahead. She was imbued with the world-class athlete’s mind-set that where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Seven unsuccessful fertility treatments later, Fernandez sat with her partner, Jane Geddes, and listened numbly as her doctor said that her eggs were old and that her Hall of Fame tennis career had contributed to her inability to conceive.
“It was crushing,” Fernandez said, adding, “I felt almost like I wished I would have never played tennis.”