Melbourne, Australia, 7 July 2024 | Matt Trollope

Storm Hunter is an incredible example of the power of positive thinking.

The Australian, 2023’s season-ending world No.1 in doubles and who was trending towards the top 100 in singles, ruptured her Achilles as she practised ahead of Australia’s Billie Jean King Cup tie against Mexico in April.

It’s a significant injury with a typical recovery timeline of 12 months, meaning Hunter’s plans to return to Wimbledon – where she was a doubles finalist last year – and represent Australia at the Paris 2024 Olympics were no longer.

Hunter admitted on this week’s episode of The Sit-Down that it had been hard watching Roland Garros from her living room, but she was taking positives from the progress she was seeing in her recovery.

“You’re always wanting to be there and (thinking) that’s where I should be and what-not, but it was also really fun to watch my friends play, watch the Australian players do well and support them from afar, and just stay connected to tennis,” she said, following a rehab session at Melbourne’s National Tennis Centre.

LISTEN: Storm Hunter on The Sit-Down

“At the moment I’m good. I think it will change, I know there’ll be some tougher moments, but I’ve got really good people around me who every day are motivating me and keeping me on track.

“(Rehab) can tend to feel really slow, especially in those early stages when you can’t do much. But every single week I feel like I’ve progressed a little bit. This week I’m starting to walk a little bit out of the moon-boot, which is very, very exciting. I’m getting my independence back a little bit more, which is good; my husband was having to do literally everything for me.

“Even if it’s something so little, you kind of have to celebrate that. And that’s what I’ve been really trying to do. I’ve been journaling a lot, actually, and each week I write down what I did this week that I couldn’t do last week.

“For example, last week I couldn’t put my shoe on because my foot was still too swollen. This week I can actually put my shoe on, so I’m like, ‘wow, Storm, you’ve improved!’”

Hunter believes the fact she has studied psychology at university is helping her to put certain tools she has learned into practice.

Documenting her recovery and progress on social media has also proved beneficial.

“To be honest it’s blown me away how supportive (everyone is) and how I guess everyone has gotten around me,” she said.

“That’s why I kind of keep posting, because I get a lot of love and support and people are cheering me on.

“The amount of people that have actually ruptured their Achilles and are going through the same thing, they’re liking to see my progress as well because they can kind of relate, or it gives them a little bit of inspiration too.

“It’s been kind of overwhelming in a good way, to be honest; I didn’t expect to get so much support and love from everyone online. It’s been lovely.”

Should Hunter be sidelined for a full 12 months, she would not be expected to return to competition until next year’s clay-court season.

But given everyone’s bodies and healing speeds are different, whenever you reach one recovery milestone, you can tick it off and approach the next.

Hunter revealed that, having already transitioned out of her ‘moon-boot’, she was two weeks ahead of the typical recovery schedule.

“Obviously I would love to be ready for the Australian summer; that’s kind of like in the back of my mind (as) something that I’m working towards,” she said.

“But at the same time, I don’t want to be disappointed if that doesn’t happen. And I’m kind of listening to my body because obviously it’s gone through something quite extreme… and I need to make sure that I’m ready when I do come back.”

Hunter’s form was so good prior to her injury that she was certain she would crack the singles top 100 at some point in 2024.

This knowledge will no doubt boost her confidence when she does eventually attempt to return.

“I just need to give myself a chance again,” she said.

“I was injured six years ago with my shoulder; I was out for 12 months, and didn’t think I was going to come back to tennis at all. I was working as a coach, (had) no money.

“I’m so glad that I did try again, because then everything that’s happened in the last six years has been incredible. We have our house with my trophies in it, and every day I’m looking at them and I’m like, ‘wow, you’ve achieved all that in the last six years because you kind of just stuck with it, and you kept showing up’.

“That’s kind of my thing now – you’ve done it before, you can do it again. Who knows what you’ll achieve if you just keep showing up and giving yourself a chance?”