Hailey Baptiste on realizing not everyone has Serena Williams-like smooth pro journey

American tennis player Hailey Baptiste, 20, admits as a kid she assumed she would have a Serena Williams or Rafael Nadal-like pro journey but now she in touch with reality and well-aware of how hard it is to make it as a pro.

In 2019, a 17-year-old Baptiste drew attention to herself after stunning former top-10 player Madison Keys 7-6 (4) 6-2 in the Washington first round. 

Since then, Baptiste has had to deal with several setbacks, including the pandemic and injuries. 

“It’s been a frustrating route for me, to say the least,” Baptiste told The Washington Post. “When you dream of being a professional tennis player as a 9-year-old, you never account for the difficult parts of that journey. You just assume that it’ll go for you as it did for Serena Williams or Rafael Nadal. But being a pro is really tough, and each day presents a new challenge.”

Hailey still feels ‘blessed’ to be a tennis pro

In 2022, Baptiste has earned around $170k – but more than $130k was handed out to cover expenses. 

“Don’t get me wrong. I’m blessed to be a professional tennis player, but it’s impossible not to look at other sports and think about what life as a top-150 player would be like. I chose this sport and I understand that you have to win to make money, so don’t think I’m out here looking for sympathy. I’m just telling you the reality of the sport,” Baptiste added.

Meanwhile, Baptiste exited the Citi Open in Washington. 

Baptiste, who was given a Washington main draw wildcard, drew top-ranked American Jessica Pegula in the first round. 

First-seeded Pegula didn’t have any problems versus Baptiste, beating the American wildcard 6-2 6-2. 

Pegula clinched a pretty routine victory Baptiste as she broke the 20-year-old twice in each set and never faced a break point. 

It remains to be seen how will Baptiste do in the rest of the North American hard court swing.