Fourlis putting foot forward for mental health
As she recovers from a shoulder reconstruction, Australian player Jaimee Fourlis is helping raise awareness for mental health this month.
Although Jaimee Fourlis is unable to compete right now, she is staying active and trying to make a difference.
The 21-year-old from Melbourne, who is Australia’s No.12-ranked woman, is supporting the Black Dog Institute’s One Foot Forward campaign this month.
With a goal of walking 120 kilometres during October, Fourlis is hoping her efforts can help raise $1400 for mental health support and research.
Fourlis, who currently has a world ranking of No.264 in singles and No.157 in doubles, admits she was previously unaware that October is Mental Health Month.
After reading that one in five people experience mental illness symptoms each year and learning that 60 per cent of those with mental illness do not seek help, Fourlis was inspired to show her support.
“I actually saw on Facebook that a friend was raising money for the walk and I thought what a great initiative,” Fourlis told tennis.com.au.
“I think a lot of people at the moment could be struggling. I know, at times, I am. It’s nice to be able to help raise awareness for this cause.”
Im walking 120km for mental illness in October. 1 in 5 people experience symptoms of mental illness each year ! Use the link to donate ❣️❣️https://t.co/BD0YzFMomU
— Jaimee fourlis (@jaimeef17) October 9, 2020
Fourlis has not played since February. She spent the tour shutdown training in Melbourne, before undergoing left shoulder reconstruction surgery in July.
The unexpected setback – caused from a dislocated shoulder while completing a side plank – happened during Melbourne’s strict lockdown.
“It has been tough,” Fourlis admitted of the challenges she has faced in 2020.
“But I’m sure everyone has something they are going through as well.
“Just to know that there are people there to talk to or help you get through those tough times is one of the main reasons I’m supporting the One Foot Forward campaign. It is important to remind people to check-in on all your family and friends.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and injury means for the first time since she was 12, Fourlis will not travel overseas to compete this year.
“Watching the US Open and French Open was hard, of course you really want to be there,” said Fourlis, who pushed former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki to three sets in her Roland Garros debut in 2017.
While Fourlis is missing life on tour, there has been some silver linings.
“I’m not used to being home for this long and my family isn’t used to having me at home this long either, so the dynamic has had to change,” admitted Fourlis, who achieved a career-high doubles ranking of No.138 in March.
“But it’s also been good. I’ve definitely made some great memories with my sisters. It’s been nice to share birthdays, something I don’t normally get to do. As well as catch up more with friends, even if it is on Zoom. Just having more time has been really nice.”
Now 13 weeks post-operation, Fourlis is making good progress in her recovery.
“I’ve been hitting some forehands, slices and volleys,” she said. “I still have limited range and use of my left arm, but it’s awesome just to be back on court.”
A return for the Australian 2021 summer is one of her biggest motivations.
Fourlis made the Australian Open second round as 17-year-old wildcard in 2017 and earlier this year recorded her first Grand Slam doubles win, advancing to the second round alongside Arina Rodionova at Melbourne Park.
— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) January 22, 2020
“I’ve got my fingers crossed I can play the Australian Open, if not I’ll still want to be there every day supporting,” she said.
“I’ve just been telling myself that perhaps this all happened for a reason. I’ve just got to stay a little bit in the moment, rather than thinking too far ahead.”
Although exercise limits have existed for Melbourne residents due the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, Fourlis is determined to reach her target of walking 120 kilometres this month.
“I did start a little bit late, but so far it’s going well,” she said.
“On weekends I’ve been planning walks with a family member or friend, during the week I’m hoping my tennis training can help get my kilometres up.”
Since signing up for the One Foot Forward campaign last Friday, Fourlis has raised more than $1000.
“It’s pretty incredible. This is the first time I’ve done something like this, so it’s great to know that my friends, family and people around me also want to support such a great cause,” Fourlis said.
“I’m just trying to do my little bit. If people want to donate that is awesome, but it is also great just to help spread the word and raise awareness.”
To support Fourlis’ efforts, visit her One Foot Forward donation page.