Ashley Harkleroad is a former professional tennis player and is currently a sports influencer, model, and a commentator. She is the only professional tennis athlete from her hometown Chattanooga Tennessee and has a praiseworthy tennis career high ranking of No. 39. Inspired by Amanda Beard’s 2007 pictorial, Ashley Harkleroad is the only tennis player to pose for a men’s entertainment and lifestyle magazine, Playboy.
Ashley Harkleroad started playing tennis in 1989 at an incredibly early age of 4 years old. She turned professional in the year 2000 at 15 years of age after her debut at the International Tennis Federation tournament in 1999 in Florida. She was coached by Chuck Adams, Jose Luis Clerc, and Jay Berger and has worked tremendously hard throughout her life to reach the peak of her career.
Ashley won her first professional matches in 2002 when she reached second rounds at San Diego and made her first double semifinals. At the end of 2002, she had ended up in the top 200 players list. During 2003 which was her breakthrough year, Ashley defeated three top-20 players to finally reach her first semifinals and became the lowest rank semifinalist in the event’s history! Soon after her splendid and breathtaking performance, Ashley improved her rank and climbed from No. 101 to No.56 after which she reached the semi-finals again at Strasbourg and scored her second top-10 win. On June 9, 2003, Ashley’s ranking was raised again from No. 52 to No. 39 and she successfully entered the top-50 tennis players list.
In 2004, Ashley reached her first WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) final in Auckland. She then won two singles titles and two double titles on ITF Circuit in 2005 but unfortunately could not play that many matches in the year due to various injuries and illness in the family. In 2006 she won one singles title on ITF circuit for qualifying twice and played a historic first match in Miami with electronic line calling being used for the first time on hard court. In 2007, Ashely won three singles titles and one doubles title on ITF Circuit and in 2008, won one doubles title on the ITF circuit.
Ashley Harkleroad soon debuted with the United States Federal Cup team with Lindsay Davenport, Laura Granville, and Lisa Raymond and faced Germany. She crushed Tatjana Malek and Sabine Lisicki of Germany, both in straight sets to help the U.S. win 4–1 and became the hero. According to NewYork Times, “Harkleroad was brilliant in her debut, winning both of her singles in straight sets.” Harkleroad’s winnings in her tennis career equal $1,022,094 according to WTA official website. Her highest ranking according to WTA is No. 39 which is a splendid position. Her top achievements include her win over top-10 players of the world, winning for the USA against Germany, and she wins at Wimbledon doubles. Ashley successfully resigned from her career as a tennis player in 2012 after making history for 12 years on a WTA tour and successfully joined a tennis channel as a sports commentator.
Ashley has achieved deserving attention from both the media and the public and is an inspiration for many female athletes today. She is often referred to as the “next Anna Kournikova”, professional Russian tennis player, and an American celebrity and has been invited over to many sports talk shows and TV shows. She is also heavily represented by print media such as NewYork posts and daily mail articles and was also on the cover page of Playboy magazine. Not only that, but she also has a noticeable social media following of 30K.
Even though Ashley today lives a different life than when she was a professional tennis player, she believes that tennis is and always will be her roots. Ashley is one of the hundreds of examples that non-male athletes are no less than anyone else. If given the platform, many non-male athletes will be able to reach their destinies and make the world proud.