Shelby Rogers on her evolution in Charleston: ‘I can play free’
It was 13 years ago that Shelby Rogers, who grew up in Mount Pleasant, played her first match at the Credit One Charleston Open.
She was 17 years old and ranked 771st in the world.
Wednesday she co-headlines the evening session along with defending champion Belinda Bencic, with Rogers taking on American Caty McNally a day after beating another compatriot in Danielle Collins.
“Any win here is super special for me,” Rogers said earlier this week.
“I think I’ve learned over the years that no matter what happens here – and like everything has happened, there’s nothing that Charleston hasn’t seen me do on the court. … [And] I’m at a place now where I feel I can just go out and be free, be myself, play my game.”
That freeing sort of tennis is exactly what she needed against Collins, the 2022 Australian Open runner-up who is always a difficult ask on the WTA. But after dropping the first set, Rogers didn’t panic, instead tapping into the kind of trust she has in her tennis that she’s learned having spent the last five years inside the Top 50.
“I would say the pressure just comes from myself,” Rogers said of playing at home. “You know, it doesn’t come from anyone off the court. And that’s just me wanting to perform and put on a good show for everyone.”
It was two years ago that Rogers and McNally met for the first and (so far) only time, at the WTA 250 event held in Charleston – but without fans.
Wednesday is set to be a different atmosphere – a much louder atmosphere.
“I think the crowd sounds a little bit different here than anywhere else for me,” Rogers said. “It’s just really special to hear how many people come out to support me and just [support] good tennis.”
“[The support] makes me just want to keep going, work harder and try to do the best that I can,” she said, adding: “And the kids come up and say, you know, ‘Thank you for being the person that you are,’ which means more to me than anything I could do on court with tennis.”
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