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Abby Forbes, winner at Wimbledon, brings her Catholic faith to the tennis court

J-P Mauro - published on 07/30/19

Throughout the entire tournament, Forbes kept the daily devotional 'Jesus Calling' with her to pray before matches.

At the 2019 Wimbledon Championship, Abby Forbes, alongside her teammate Savannah Broadus, won the junior girls doubles title. The victory afforded Abby and Savanah — 18 years old and 16 years old respectively — their first tennis majors trophies.

Kate Turgeon Watson from Catholic News Service reports that the rising tennis star kept the daily devotional Jesus Calling in her bag throughout the entire seven-game tournament.

Forbes reportedly received the book from her Confirmation sponsor, Joan Monti, an 80-year-old retired nurse who volunteers with the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program at St. Francis of Assisi Church, in Raleigh. Forbes, who received her First Communion and Confirmation in April, found Jesus Calling to be profoundly inspirational to her faith. She said:

“I decided that I was going to keep that book in my tennis bag,” Forbes said. “Every match. Every practice. I open it and I read the daily reading or confession. And I pray on it. It just keeps me connected to my faith while I am playing sports.”

Forbes’ religious journey began about a year ago, when she decided to add the RCIA formation to her already demanding schedule, which includes high school course work, tennis practice for six hours per day, and an active family life.

In a report from the Diocese of Raleigh, featured above, Forbes explains that she first encountered Monti at the first meeting of the RCIA, where she said  she felt called to approach the older woman, who had a background in tennis, which — along with their shared faith — gave them plenty in common to hit it off. Of their initial meeting, Forbes said:

“Something just drew me to Joan. I like to say now that it was the spirit,” Forbes said. “I told our leader … ‘Hey, can Joan be my sponsor?’ I found it really nice of her that she was able to talk to me about my sport, something I love so much.”

Forbes told Watson from Catholic News Service that her religious education has had an emphasis on prayer, which she credits to her mother. She said that during her RCIA formation, she noted that her performance on the court was directly influenced by the events of her life and that the happiness she found in her faith has aided in her athletic success.

While Forbes brings her faith with her on the court, its positive influence in her life does not end there. At home, her autistic brother, Luke, was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Abby said that her faith is helping her through the trials that have come with her brother’s illness.

“Luke is my rock. I relied on God there because I wasn’t able to be home. I had to be in Paris that next week (after his diagnosis) and I felt like the only person I could trust was God. I really leaned on him. I still do because it’s still happening and it’s going to be a long process for him to get better,” Forbes said.

Abby Forbes is preparing to start her college education at UCLA, where she will continue to study and perfect her tennis game. She told Catholic News Service that she had already visited the University Catholic Center, where she can’t wait to deepen her faith with her fellow students.

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