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Rebecca Marino quits tennis, cites depression, Internet abuse

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Rebecca Marino

Rebecca Marino was the highest-ranked Canadian woman at one point last year. (Aaron Favila/AP).

Two days after The New York Times ran a profile on Canadian player Rebecca Marino’s struggle with online abuse on Twitter, Marino announced she is taking another break from tennis, possibly a permanent one.

“I have decided to step away from tennis,” she said. “This was not an easy decision, but there are a number of factors that have led me to this. Factors that are part of our society and that I am more than open to discuss, which I plan to do moving forward, because I know it’s part of my growth process.”

Marino, now No. 418 after her extended absence last year, reached a career-high of No. 38 in 2011. Her best result was a final appearance in Memphis that same year. She returned to the tournament this week and played what could be the final match of her career, a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Alexa Glatch in the first round of qualifying.

Marino initially told The New York Times that abusive comments online drove her decision to take a break from the tour for seven months last year, but in a conference call today she revealed she’s suffered from depression for the last six years and used that break to seek help.

Marino’s willingness to speak publicly about both depression and online abuse has brought the issues into the spotlight. The day The New York Times profile ran, Marino once again deleted her Twitter account and another Twitter stalwart, Britain’s Laura Robson, suspended hers, too, though she had a change of heart a day later and reinstated it.

“Honestly I’ve had enough of the internet, twitter and facebook,” Marino tweeted on Monday evening. “I am now deleting everything. Heck I should even throw out my computer. Thank you to all the wonderful fans for your support. You are the reason I keep going and staying positive. So goodbye twitter!”

Robson, who has been cited as one of the best tennis Twitter accounts to follow by various outlets, including SI.com, gave no indication that anything was wrong when she abruptly deleted her account. A quick look at some of the messages Robson received after Monday’s three-set loss to Yulia Putintseva in Dubai give some insight into the negative feedback the 19-year-old received, which likely prompted her decision to briefly deactivate.

As Marino told The New York Times, some of the most vicious messages can come from disgruntled bettors who lost money on matches and take it out on the players. Not to be underestimated are the flurry of tweets Robson has received on an almost daily basis rife with sexual innuendo.

That Robson even entertained the idea of deleting her account so suddenly was particularly surprising given her popularity on Twitter. Her follower count of 170,000 is unmatched for any player ranked outside the top 40. By way of comparison, Victoria Azarenka barely beats her out at 183,000, and Maria Sharapova, who joined Twitter a month ago, trails with 132,000.

Marino isn’t the first tennis player who has struggled with depression. In his autobiography “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match,” former No. 1 Cliff Richey revealed his 40-year struggle. Jennifer Capriati, Monica Seles and Pat Cash have discussed depression as well.

[Slideshow: Athletes and Depression]

  • Published On Feb 20, 2013
  • 15 comments
    smcooper62
    smcooper62

    What did I miss in this article?  Why did it switch from Caroline Marino to Laura Robson?

    pandah462
    pandah462

    Dan Marino had a Canadian lovechild that plays tennis?!?!

    steve66
    steve66

    Why oh why do people have Twitter

    Michael9
    Michael9

    There's a lot of hypocritical, simplistic and self-righteous views about cyber-bullying and fans' reaction to tennis articles. Left out of the narrative is the role of the authors and their articles in contributing to the problem -- especially when their articles are borderline irresponsible, irrational, abusive, one-sided and unsubstantiated/unsupported by the facts and logic.

     

    For example, consider the amount of internet abuse probably hurled at Radwanska after she was accused of "complete lack of professionalism". The author failed to give the facts and context that (a) Polish newspapers reported that both Radwanska sisters were subjected to abusive slurs (religious, sexist, racist in nature) by spectators supporting the host team (the host team's name was not even mentioned); (b) the team captain Tomasz Wiktorowski is responsible for his Fed Cup team, not the player Radwanska (just as the captain gets primary credit for team wins and titles) and (c) the assembled news media and tennis writers chose to stop questioning the Polish team after just 45 seconds and failed to ask the team about the alleged abuse hurled at them (really, it was the press that displayed lack of professionalism). 

    http://tinyurl.com/amanxo2

     

    In other words, let's stop being hypocrites who who pretend to be neutral/impartial yet apply double standards against posters whose views they don't accept. Instead, let's apply the same standards to hold both authors and posters accountable for writing reasonable views supported by sound facts, reasonable logic and consistent principles. If your dubious opinions are unsupported, don't whine when you're challenged.

    rampal
    rampal

    frankly the way many tennis "fans" react to tennis media articles, such as are found here at Beyond the Baseline, is also borderline abusive and certainly idiotic.  I think the sort of person drawn to watching tennis is perhaps obsessive and overly self-involved...

    usable.thought
    usable.thought

    The cyber-bullying is real. And it makes me wonder even about the abusive fans who comment here and on other tennis sites (e.g. tennis.com) vilifying various top players - e.g. making unsupported allegations that Nadal "has to be" using steroids, or that Federer is arrogant to the point of near-criminality, etc. It's easy to make hateful and irresponsible remarks when you can stay anonymous, or when you don't actually know the person you are abusing. And it's a shame too. Free speech shouldn't be censored, but still there is something wrong here socially that needs addressing. Just not sure how that can be done.

    Rick K.
    Rick K.

     @smcooper62

     It actually says in the article that Laura Robson has also experienced cyberbullying and had suspended her twitter account as well.  They were using hers as an example.

    usable.thought
    usable.thought

     @Michael9 Always playing the devil's advocate, eh Michael9? But your case here doesn't hold up. The language in the twitter assaults being cited is straight-out vile hate language, and it is directed not at other readers but at the objects of hate (the supposedly offending players). It is meant to taunt, to do harm, the way insults are always meant to taunt and harm. Meanwhile, no such direct hate speech exists in media articles about tennis players. The only one who thinks there is a equivalence here is you - and the irony of that is that you are one of the biggest haters in the room yourself, with your raging hate of the media and your constant twisting of facts to support that hate.

    IdaAnnaTaylor
    IdaAnnaTaylor

     @rampal

     Have you read other sports threads?  Good grief... they are just as bad, if not worse!  Fanatic online fans are the same regardless of sport.  They idolize their favs and they vilify the others.

    CoreyRSanity
    CoreyRSanity

    It may be "real" but no o me HAS to use the Internet or make an account on a social media web site. It isn't like school bullying. You HAVE to go to school by law. All they have to do is step away from the keyboard. No one has ever died because they couldn't access the interwebs. @usable.thought

    brodney199
    brodney199

     @usable.thought Great observation! IMO we have to start in our educational institutions as part of the curricula for children & youth, children now as young as 12 yrs old possess smartphones, kindles, Ipads, Iphones, laptops etc & have unfettered access to all kinds social media like Twitter, YT, FB without parental guidance.

    Michael9
    Michael9

     @usable.thought  Put your money where your mouth is: prove with facts your prejudiced  and ridiculous claim that “you are one of the biggest haters in the room yourself, with your raging hate of the media and your constant twisting of facts to support that hate”.

     

    Actually your prattling really speaks volumes about your own heavy bias – you once boasted to me that you are a tennis writer, so no wonder you jump to protect other tennis writers who producing dubious arguments while hypocritically refusing to apply the same standards you use to condemn others.

     

    Stop twisting factual criticism into “raging hate of the media”. It’s clear from our previous discussion (see link) that you do not comply with the standards and ethics pertaining to mainstream journalism or mainstream news media.

    http://tinyurl.com/ahpq9bp

     

    Your case here does not hold up because again you failed to get your facts rights and your arguments are dubious:.

     

    - First, you wrongly presumed the offending comments were just “twitter assaults”— but it’s more than just Twitter, which you would have known had you done your homework.  Rebecca Marino herself cites “Internet abuse”: “Honestly I’ve had enough of the internet, twitter and facebook.”

     

    - Second, you narrowly limit the issue to “hate language” or “hate speech” but the issue clearly goes beyond hate speech. Or perhaps you simply don’t understand what ‘hate speech’ means – what it is and is not (then read this link). Or perhaps your obsession with ‘hate’ (you repeated the word six times) reinforced “hate speech” in your  mind.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech

     

    - Third, once your realize that the issue is larger than just “hate speech”, your point “it is directed not at other readers but at the objects of hate (the supposedly offending players)” actually supports my point which was about  a root cause of the unjustified internet abuse  hurled at the supposedly offending player Radwanska.

     

     I had considered forcing you to prove your dubious claims by using your own hypocritical past argument against your current arguments, but this would probably be too much for you to chew :)  [Usable Thought: “you haven't even proved systematic bias against Federer per se. You'd have to show that journalist X (whoever that might be) makes up quotes for Federer that are unfavorable and does not do so with other tennis players. You'd have to do some statistical number crunching as part of this.”]

     

    As I said elsewhere, I can’t take your views seriously when they’re not supported by valid facts, sound logic or consistent principles. You argue for the sake of arguing. Yet you don’t like your views being challenged and debunked – so you taint my criticisms as mere “hate”. Please calm down and grow up.

     

    Kalcifa
    Kalcifa

    I think the thing with freedom of speech is you can't tell someone how they should use it. If people want to express themselves by making abusive and idiotic posts, then the rest of us have to accept it.  If you can't,  then you always have the option not to listen/read whatever they are saying. Marino and Robson have chosen the latter, and that is fine. It isn't really the tragedy people are making it out to be.