Former French Open runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova admitted Monday that her knee injury was so serious that she "couldn't walk or sit down" and even feared her career was over.
The 31-year-old was sidelined for eight months from May last year to January, seeing her ranking slump to 333.
Pavlyuchenkova admitted that a decision to go under the knife left her fearing the worst.
"I was close to crying and also sad because I wasn't sure what's after. I wasn't sure if I will never come back," she said.
However, she knew that if she wanted to keep playing then surgery was the only option.
"I could barely jog or walk or sit down. It was just painful all the time. So that was definitely not a knee for a professional athlete. I had to make that decision. I had to go for it."
Once surgery was over last year, Pavlyuchenkova then discovered the road through rehabilitation was equally frustrating.
"There was a lot of rehab, but most importantly, I had to skip practice. I just had to stop because every time, obviously, on the impact I had a lot of pain," she recalled.
"So I had to stop tennis completely. I didn't touch my racquet for I think five months. They didn't let me. Like, the doctors, I was begging them to just let me sit on the chair and hit some balls.
"My doctor in Munich told me, 'No, no, no, I know how you guys do it. You sit for two minutes and then five minutes after you are running like this'. He is, like, 'No, no, no'."
It was a long road back for the Russian who was the losing finalist to Barbora Krejcikova in the 2021 Roland Garros final.
She had to rebuild her career on the second-tier ITF circuit this spring and only won a match on the main tour in Madrid earlier this month.
It was a first victory at the top level since the third round of the Australian Open in January 2022.
She then won one round in Rome before losing 6-0, 6-0 to world number one Iga Swiatek but was rejuvenated at Roland Garros on Monday when she defeated Czech teenager Linda Fruhvirtova 6-2, 6-2 to make the second round.
Pavlyuchenkova's absence from the courts at least provided a boost for her social life when she was ruled out of action on the eve of last year's French Open.
"My friends flew to Roland Garros to watch me. I stayed with them, and we did a lot of things that we wouldn't be able to do. So they actually said, 'It's funny, we're actually happy you're not playing. Because then it's like normal and we have been going out and doing things'," she said.