The former world No. 98 has been dealing with a serious left knee injury for two years. (Getty Images)

"I was doing physical therapy and trying to get range of motion back in my knee, and that was probably one of the most painful things that I’ve been through. I was like, why am I doing this to myself?"

While working on her return to the tour, Samantha Crawford joins the Podcast with Nina Pantic and Irina Falconi at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, Fla. 

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The 24-year-old American cracked the Top 100 in 2016, the same year she reached the semifinals of Brisbane as a qualifier. Before that breakthrough, she gained global recognition by winning the junior US Open in 2012, and turned pro while still a teenager. 

But knee injuries have plagued her since the age of 12, and in 2017, she had to step away from her playing career due to recurring left knee pain. She would end up needing a double cartilage replacement, totaling four left knee surgeries, and is only just easing back into hitting. On top of that, she's not eligible for a protected ranking (she'll explain why). 

It hasn't been all bad though as Crawford is using her free time to pursue a college degree, and has had the strong support of the USTA, her family and friends, and her dog, Lola.

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