She Left Tennis in 2011. Now Patty Schnyder Is Back at the U.S. Open.

She Left Tennis in 2011. Now Patty Schnyder Is Back at the U.S. Open.

On a small, outer court at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center on Friday morning, in front of a small crowd that included a handful of Swiss, a triumph of determination was achieved: Patty Schnyder qualified for the United States Open.

She did it by beating Jessica Pegula in straight sets, winning her third qualifying match of the week and giving her entry into the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in more than seven years.

“It’s a really good feeling to be playing on this stage after all the hard work,” Schnyder said.

It was not her first berth into the tournament — she played in every major tournament from 1997 through 2009 — but it was her fourth attempt to qualify for a Grand Slam event over the last two years of her comeback from a retirement.

There was no wild celebration to mark the breakthrough. Schnyder, who is from Basel, Switzerland, just spent a quiet night out in New York with her 3-year-old daughter, Kim, and Kim’s father, Jan. They walked in Central Park, went to a Japanese restaurant and answered all the congratulatory calls and texts from family and friends back home.

This triumph was not about glory.

“It’s all just within yourself,” she said. “It’s about being in a nice spot with your loved ones and just being proud of yourself.”

Schnyder, 39, played her first professional tournament 25 years ago, joining the WTA Tour during an era when Steffi Graf and Monica Seles ruled the women’s game. She entered her first Grand Slam main draw at the French Open in 1996 and reached six Grand Slam quarterfinals and a semifinal, at the 2004 Australian Open, through 2009. Her ranking climbed as high as No. 7 in the world, but that was 13 years ago.

After losing in the first round of the 2011 French Open, her last appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, she retired. The drudgery and fatigue of so many years on tour was too much.

But in July 2015, about eight months after giving birth to Kim, she returned to the tour, reinvigorated by a new outlook and a new baby. Instead of a chore, tennis became a treat when she was playing in front of her daughter, even in far-flung places like Asia, Australia and North America.

And after three years of steadily climbing the rankings, she is finally back on one of tennis’s biggest stages. But the challenges get more difficult from here: Schnyder is scheduled to play Maria Sharapova, the No. 22 seed and 2006 Open champion, on Tuesday night.

They first met on court in 2004, when Sharapova was 17 and on her way to winning Wimbledon, but they have not played in a decade.

“It will be a great stage, but it’s not going to be overwhelming,” Schnyder said of Tuesday’s match, scheduled to be played at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. “It’s going to come down to the two of us and nothing else.”

Last summer, she got her ranking up to No. 198, good enough to gain entry into the Open qualifying tournament. She lost in the second round, two wins short of a main-draw berth. Still, Schnyder found she was having fun and thought her game was improving, despite some ups and downs. She entered the qualifying tournaments at this year’s Australian Open and Wimbledon, losing in the first round both times.

In June, her ranking reached No. 139, a high point for her comeback, before falling back to No. 186 before the Open. But she beat Maryna Zanevska in the first round of qualifying and Veronika Kudermetova in the second before taking out Pegula on Court 7. Regardless of what happens against Sharapova, Schnyder will take home at least $54,000, more than double what she had earned so far this year.

“It’s a really big check again,” she said. “It’s a bonus to the big achievement on court.”

Schnyder said she had not set any more goals for herself. Tuesday night could be the first of many more matches, or her last ever. It just depends on how she and her family feel about the process.

“Sometimes I say this is the last one, and sometimes I say, ‘Why stop if you are playing good?’” she said. “I just take it as it comes.”

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