The year was 1980. The USA hockey team defeated the mighty Soviets in hockey. Ronald Reagan defeats Jimmy Carter for the presidency. The game Pac-Man is released and young Andrea Jaeger was introduced to the tennis world. But in five short years her career would end and a new, more rewarding life started.
Chicago native Andrea Jaeger was the best junior tennis player in the United States becoming the youngest to win the prominent Orange Bowl and Boca Raton in 1979. In 1980, at the age of 15, she became the youngest player ever ranked at Wimbledon (later surpassed by Jennifer Capriati) and made it all the way to the quarterfinals. Later that year, she would become the youngest player to become a US Open semifinalist and was named Rookie of the Year.
However not everything was coming up roses of Jaeger. Her relationship with her father was a strained one. Jaeger's father, Roland, pushed her into the sport as she lost her childhood and was trying to deal with the nasty world of professional sports. He would sometimes physically beat Andrea and would berate whenever she lost and once berated her throughout a 1,000 mile car ride after a loss in the US Open. Before her Wimbledon Finals match in 1983 against Martina Navratilova, Jaeger and her father got into an extremely heated argument and kicked her out of the room. Jaeger tried to get Navratilova to convince him to let his daughter back in, but Navratilova refused to help. Navratilova's trainer however did help her get a taxi.
The next day Jaeger lost to Navratilova 6-0, 6-3 a match Jaeger later said she threw. She did not want to become a top ranked player and threw more than one match to keep her from not getting the top ranking. As she was becoming a big star, she would frequent hospitals and got more enjoyment out of helping those in need than winning titles.
In 1984, Andrea Jaeger suffered a career ending shoulder injury at the French Open. Instead of seeing it as a curse ahe saw it as a blessing. A reason to leave the sport and the drama surrounding it and start a new life. Many young athletes probably would have fallen down the wrong path but not Jaeger. Andrea Jaeger attended college an received a degree in theology. In 1990, she used all of her winnings to start Silver Lining Foundation, a foundation that helps children with cancer by sending them to Aspen for a week of activities and support. The first contributor to the foundation was John McEnroe and many others followed suit. Andrea Jaeger, at the age of 41, became an Anglican Dominican nun in 2006.
Andrea Jaeger had finally found her calling and it wasn't tennis. She has done more good in this world than she ever would have had she won Wimbledon. She has touched the hearts of many sick children and tried to make their lives better. Oprah Winfrey has called her, "A superstar turned superhero."
Truer words have never been spoken.