Zoe Hives' inspiring journey to Wimbledon
Of all the Australian success stories at Wimbledon qualifying, none are as inspiring as Zoe Hives' tale of grit and persistence.
Unable to play for more than two years while battling Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Hives was among six Australians to qualify at Roehampton.
But, at No.572 in the world and on the comeback trail, Hives was the most unlikely.
The 24-year-old only returned to the tour at the Australian Open in January, having been floored since September 2019 with her debilitating condition.
"So for two-and-a-bit years I was unwell," Hives told AAP on Thursday.
"It's called POTS but don't ask me how to say it all.
"Chronic fatigue and dizziness were my two main symptoms so I couldn't go for a five-minute walk in January 2020. I was stunned.
"So it's been a long way back from there."
It's no surprise that Hives wondered at times if she'd make it back at all.
"Particularly before I knew what it was," she said.
"Once I knew what it was and once I started seeing someone who had gotten someone else through it, I had some hope. But it was a lot of hard work to get back."
When first struck down, Hives couldn't hit balls for five months.
"I had to build up very slowly," she said.
"Then I tried to play some tournaments at the end of 2020 but that was too much for me and I ended up going backwards and it pretty much felt like I had to start again.
"It wasn't until the end of 2021 that I started feeling a bit better."
Hives clinched her Wimbledon berth when ailing compatriot Priscilla Hon was unable to take to the court for Thursday's final-round qualifying match.
"It's a bit bittersweet that I didn't get the match, didn't get the moment of qualifying," Hives said before drawing fifth seed Maria Sakkari for her opener, likely to be on Monday.
"But to get the call to say she withdrew and that I was actually in, I was a bit stunned to be honest.
"I was just warming up for my match to be ready and to be told that, I couldn't believe it and I don't really think it's sunk in just yet."
A guaranteed pay day of Stg 50,000 ($A89,000) for even a first-round loss at the All England Club is also a game changer for Hives, whose entire career earnings before this week was $US240,000 ($A349,000).
"It really helps. The last few weeks I played some ITF events; you barely get anything. It barely covers a meal," said the Ballarat-born battler.
"So to get this it makes the whole year a lot easier."
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