Andrea Jaeger is a former #2 world ranked tennis player; reaching that ranking in August 1981 at the age of 16. In 1980 at the age of 15 years and 19 days, she became the youngest player to be seeded at Wimbledon, an accomplishment that was broken by Jennifer Capriati in 1990. In 1981 she won the U.S. Clay Court Championships. She reached the singles final of Wimbledon in 1983 and the French Open finals in 1982, and was widely considered a tennis phenom.
While she loved the travel, she was unsure of herself in an adult world, was not prepared for the loneliness of being a very young professional athlete, and found it difficult to handle the resentment of women she competed against. She was a child playing for fun while her opponents were, for the most part, adults working at their jobs.
In most of her matches, she was a fierce competitor; however, there were times when she admits to not trying, or giving top effort, in other matches. She suffered a shoulder injury in 1985, and after 7 surgeries, she was out of competitive tennis by 1987. Andrea is often cited as an example of classic ‘burnout’. She has said her shoulder injury was a blessing; “When I was on the tennis circuit, I wish someone had taken me under their arm and said, look, you’re great at this sport and talented, but I’m going to help teach you about life, not just about tennis.”
Since her retirement from tennis, Andrea has devoted her time and efforts to helping children who are suffering from cancer. She used earnings from tennis to start Silver Lining Foundation / Little Star Foundation, where she currently serves as President. Silver Lining Foundation / Little Star Foundation supports children from all walks of life who are dealing with cancer and life-threatening diseases by improving their quality of life and providing long term care.
She is also a founding member of Athletes For Hope, organized in 1990 to bring athletes together to educate, inspire, and empower athletes to channel their energy for a common goal; to make a difference in the world. From its original 12 founding members, it now boasts over 1,000 athletes from a wide range of sports.
In 2006 she was ordained as an Anglican Dominican nun.
In an interview in 2008, Andrea responded to a series of questions:
When did you know this was how you wanted to spend your life? She responded, “The first time I went into a hospital and met young people with cancer was when I was 16. That’s when I knew that helping people like them was what I wanted to do.”
So religion was always important to you? She responded, “My friendship with GOD has always been the strongest thing in my life, so when I was given the choice between tennis and the kids, I knew I didn’t want to be on the circuit. But it was hard; I had responsibilities, I had contracts, I didn’t want to disappoint people. I wanted GOD to make the decision for me. So when my shoulder popped, and it felt like jaws had bitten off a chunk of it, I knew it was career ending. I thought, great, I can go help kids full time. I was given a direction and I’ve been helping kinds ever since.”
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