Sachia Vickery is used to overcoming challenges, even ones as hard as 2020 is throwing at her. The American has been grinding on the pro tour since she was just 14 years old, and her story is unique.
Born in Florida, her mother Paula raised her and her older brother alone after immigrating from the South American country of Guyana. As a junior, Vickery made a name for herself early, reaching as high as No. 6 in the world. At 16, Vickery didn't hesitate to turn pro.
"My mom, she was working three jobs, at one point, to put me through tennis," Vickery said on the TENNIS.com Podcast. "And we went through a lot of hard times, and I had to go through that, to get to where I'm at now. But I think the biggest thing was I knew playing professional, I can make a career out of that a lot earlier. I knew I'd be making money, and I knew I'd be able to support my family."
All of her sacrifice and hard work was rewarded with a Top-100 breakthrough in 2018. That season she picked up a lot of attention for her upset of a world No. 3-ranked Garbine Muguruza at Indian Wells, as a qualifier.
"Always since I was young, I just knew I wanted to be professional," the 25-year-old said. "It was just my dream, to even play a Grand Slam, was just the most unbelievable dream."
This year, for reasons beyond her control, her dreams aren't materializing. With the extended COVID-19 shutdown, Roland Garros moved to late September, Wimbledon was cancelled and the US Open is not holding a qualifying draw. With her ranking of No. 158, Vickery would have competed in qualifying.
"I think it was a total slap in the face to so many players who depend on playing a Slam, and that really depend on the competition and the prize money," Vickery said. "Everybody's been going through this rough time, but I just feel like prioritizing the top players—which of course they deserve to be there, they deserve to play these tournaments—it was just really a hard blow for the players that work so hard to be in qualies."
At the Grand Slam level, Vickery has won the most in New York, reaching the second round as a qualifier in 2018 as well as back in 2013 as a wild card. She's appeared in the second round of Wimbledon in 2018 and the Australian Open in 2019.
Backlash and debate has followed any recent tour decision and only one thing is guaranteed: not everyone will be happy. The US Open has had to make tough choices to even consider holding an event this year.
The good news is that the calendar is fluid, and the future is brightening up: Roland Garros will hold a qualifying draw and even permit fan attendance. At 25, Vickery has many more seasons, and US Opens, ahead of her.