Tennis player Jessica Pegula reveals her mother and Buffalo Bills co-owner Kim suffered a cardiac arrest while she was sleeping in June; "I had to deal with a lot of speculation and questions surrounding her health, even shutting down rumours that she had died"
Wednesday 8 February 2023 12:01, UK
Jessica Pegula thought about ending her tennis career prematurely last year after her mother Kim suffered a cardiac arrest in June.
Kim, the co-owner and president of the NFL's Buffalo Bills and NHL's Buffalo Sabres, needed CPR from her other daughter Kelly before paramedics arrived and restored her heartbeat.
Pegula received the news after returning home to Florida from the French Open, where she lost to eventual champion Iga Swiatek but climbed into the top 10.
The world No 4 said she wanted to share her mother's story after Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest during an NFL game last month.
She made the announcement in an essay she wrote for The Players' Tribune, titled, "I want to talk to you about my mom".
"Suddenly I went from, 'Let's celebrate top 10 in the world' to, 'Do I need to start thinking about my career after tennis a lot sooner than I thought?'" Pegula wrote.
"I'm 28 and I take pride in being able to handle every situation thrown at me, but this was a lot."
Pegula went on to play Wimbledon and the US Open last year to reach a career-high ranking of No 3.
"I still wanted to play Wimbledon if I knew my mom was OK.," Pegula wrote. "My dad didn't want me to play, but I knew she would be upset if I skipped because of her.
"I had to deal with a lot of speculation and questions surrounding her health, even shutting down rumours that she had died," added Pegula, who lost to Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals of this year's Australian Open.
"It wasn't necessarily the most fun Wimbledon experience I remember. I had a few good wins, and I was proud I was able to go out and compete considering the situation."
Jessica credits her sister, Kelly, for saving the life of their mum, who went into cardiac arrest while she was sleeping around midnight on June 7, Kim's birthday.
"My dad woke up to her going into cardiac arrest and she was unresponsive for quite a while," Jessica wrote. "My sister gave her CPR until the ambulance arrived. She saved her life."
The life Kim Pegula returns to will not be the same as it was, Jessica wrote.
"She gave everyone so much of her time and effort. She lived it and loved it, and it was felt by everyone she met. Now we come to the realisation that all of that is most likely gone. That she won't be able to be that person anymore."
Kim and Terry Pegula bought the Sabres in 2011 for $189m and the Bills in 2014 for $1.4bn.
She is president of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, the umbrella organisation for the Bills, Sabres, the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, and the Buffalo Bandits and Rochester Knighthawks of the National Lacrosse League.