The ever-resilient crowd favorite James Blake has announced his intent to play in the 2013 BB&T Atlanta Open.
Blake has had an illustrious career ever since he arrived on the pro tour in 2001 with bouncing dreads, quick feet, and a hammering forehand. His career achievements include reaching the finals of the prestigious ATP World Tour Finals in 2006, the semifinals of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, quarterfinal appearances at the Australian (2008) and U.S. Opens (2005, 2006), and a career-high ranking of No. 4 in the world (2006). But for those that truly follow the career of James Blake, there is much more to Blake than what can be seen on the tennis court.
In 2004, while practicing on slick clay courts in Rome, Blake slid head first into a net post, fracturing vertebra in his neck that kept him off the tour until July. Just when Blake was getting back on the tour, he came down with shingles, which paralyzed one side of his face and impeded his hearing and vision. On top of these devastating injuries, Blake also lost his father Thomas Sr. to stomach cancer that same year.
For most people, these experiences would have been career ending. But for Blake, these experiences were a catalyst for personal success, as the next few years saw Blake reach career achievements on the court as well as inspiring him to found the James Blake Foundation for cancer research. In 2007, Blake would write a book about his life experiences titled Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won My Life Back which became a New York Times best-seller that same year. Blake’s accomplishments would also win him the ATP Tour’s 2008 Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year award. In 2012, Blake married Emily Snider and welcomed a daughter Riley Elizabeth.
These days, Blake is still out their grinding away on the tour, reaching the semis of the Dallas Challenger in February and the 3rd round of the Miami Masters, knocking off Top 30 player Julien Benneteau along the way.