Adam Pretty/Getty Images
By Jon Wertheim
May 29, 2017

A periodic reminder that “life happens” to professional athletes. They hit the ball faster and more accurately than everyone on the planet, but—and we tend to forget this—they are not immune from existential ups and downs.

Earlier this month, Steve Johnson Sr., a longtime and well-regarded California tennis coach, passed away unexpectedly at age 58. His son, Stevie, took some time off but has returned to his day job playing tennis. The 25th seed, Johnson finished off a darkness-suspended match against Yuichi Sugita and won in five sets today, as his mother, sister and fiancée looked on. “The pain and trying to get through it, it’s just hard…Probably one of the harder matches I’ve played,” he said after the match.

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