The Iso: Monica Puig


The Players’ Tribune is introducing a new series called The Iso. With so many of us keeping our distance from each other in a variety of ways, we decided to ask some of our favorite athletes to share how they’ve been dealing with life in the Covid-19 world, and how they’re spending their time away from their sport.

I was in Indian Wells for the Open when it all started. That’s when all of the chaos hit tennis. To be honest, with my elbow injury, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be able to compete in the tournament at all. And I wasn’t — I withdrew because I just wasn’t at 100% with my recovery. And then it got canceled.

I wouldn’t want to call it a blessing because this is not a blessing at all — it’s a nightmare. But it definitely does give me time to rehab and recover my elbow even more. I wasn’t ready to compete just yet. It’s all very scary, though. It has definitely been something very traumatic to see and experience.

I am in complete shock. When I think about how the virus has spread and everything that has followed — cities shutting down, sports grinding to a complete halt, people losing their jobs — it is just beyond. It’s just chaos right now.

I’m in Miami, by myself at my apartment. I tend to come over to my parents’ house during the day, and I hang out here until it’s time to go to sleep, then go right back. My parents, my brother and my two dogs, Rio and Luna — we are the crew holding down the fort over here and just trying to find the positives within all of this.

Nobody in my family has gotten it, thank God. In Miami, it’s not as bad as in New York and California, thankfully. But it’s still pretty bad. So, we’re all trying to take the necessary measures to just make sure that we’re all safe and healthy and just praying that everybody else can also take this seriously and realize that if we do things right, we can definitely make a difference.

I’m just taking it day by day right now. I’m trying to keep up with my workouts and spend time with my family. Tennis is a game that doesn’t really permit me to lay low. I have to work out and stay in shape, so that when I do get to come back, I come back in full force.

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I’m limited, but I train. In November, I invested in a Peloton for myself. That’s very good when it comes to cardio because I can do it at whatever time I want and have my own schedule. And then I do the normal core workouts on the floor, or band workouts. It’s really easy because these are normal things that you can do from day to day. I have some dumbbells here, so I can also get some leg workouts in, some strength work.

It’s nice to leave the racket aside and focus on mental and physical health. I’m not really worried too much about the tennis racket because nobody’s playing. I feel like since our tennis season continues to get pushed back, tennis is really not that much of a priority. Nobody’s getting points, nobody’s losing points.

I’m reading A Gentleman in Moscow. Reading is one of those things, like journaling and meditation, that helps me with my mental health. I really like to read and take the time to just like be quiet in my head and in my body.

I’m watching a ton of movies. I’m a big fan of rewatching movies, and I like funny movies, especially at this time. So, I’m watching a lot of cartoon movies. I’m obsessed with The Grinch. I know a lot of people who follow me on social media have seen that I’ve been watching the cartoon version of The Grinch at least like 500 times a week. I also watched The Secret Life of Pets and all those movies like that, that pretty much just make me feel really good.

Social media has probably exploded more for everybody than ever, so I’m online a lot. You know, when we’re in season, I think a lot of us try to stay off of social media because of the negativity. But now, it’s really become a beacon for positivity, hope and fun. With all of these challenges that are going on — people doing home workouts, cooking recipes and everything — it’s actually pretty cool.

I’ve been talking a lot and keeping in touch with friends. That’s been so nice and so essential.

One day at a time. There’s really nothing else that I am looking forward to right now, other than taking it one day at a time. While there are a ton of negatives I could dwell on, there is also a lot of extra time and space that I have now that tennis players don’t usually get — number one to rest, number two to nurse injuries and recover, and also to spend time with family.

I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be with my family, especially at a stressful time like this. One thing that has been a positive is just seeing how many people around the world are actually caring and jumping in and helping each other out through the process.

My biggest fear right now is the economy, because it has really taken a hit. That’s something that we never could have anticipated, but that’s definitely a concern of mine, personally. But I think my biggest concern, out of all of this, is just the health and safety of the world.

Hopefully this unites the world in a way that we haven’t seen before. And hopefully, this can go away very soon. You know, unfortunately, sometimes it takes traumatic experiences like this for people to open their eyes and realize that we all need to be in this together and not against one another.