Nicole Gibbs has always been a fighter. From the early stages of her professional career, the 26-year-old American has showcased a unique mettle and resilience that has allowed her to go toe-to-toe against many of the WTA’s elite. Winner of seven singles titles and five doubles titles on the ITF Circuit, Gibbs entered the 2019 season primed for a breakthrough that would elevate her to tennis’ next level.
But 2019 had other plans for the American, as Gibbs was diagnosed with a rare form of oral cancer early in the year. She underwent successful surgery in May, but was forced to endure a life-changing event that arose seemingly out of nowhere. Relying on the unwavering confidence that had helped her step up to fearsome opponents on the court, Gibbs took on her biggest challenge yet, this time from off the court.
While most players would be out for an extended period of time recovering from such a serious condition, Gibbs is not most players. After barely over a month on the sidelines, Gibbs was ready to get back on the court. She stormed back into action in July at the US Open and took part in an epic first round showdown against World No. 4 Simona Halep. As fans cheered her on, Gibbs took the Grand Slam champion and Romanian powerhouse to the brink in a three-set thriller on center court. The match served as another example of Gibbs’ incredible resolve, and sent a message to the tennis world that she would not back down.
Defying the odds isn’t new to the American, as Gibbs put together a record-breaking career as a collegiate player at Stanford University from 2010-2014. During her sophomore season as the top player in both singles and doubles for the Cardinal, Gibbs pulled off a historic sweep. She captured both the NCAA singles and doubles titles, becoming the first female player to do so since 1995 and only the third player ever to raise both trophies in a single season.
As a professional, the accolades haven’t come as easily for Gibbs. While she’s reached two WTA125K finals (one in singles, one in doubles) she was unable to win the title at either event. Regardless, there have been plenty of individual moments that highlight her budding brilliance. Besides the aforementioned US Open battle, Gibbs has twice reached the third round of a Grand Slam (2014 US Open, 2017 Australian Open).
Gibbs is also an Oracle Challenger Series veteran, having competed in Newport Beach, Indian Wells, Chicago and New Haven over the course of the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 Series’. She’s made her enjoyment of Oracle events clear, and it’s easy to see why as she owns impressive victories over the likes of fellow American compatriots Taylor Townsend, Whitney Osuigwe, Jennifer Elie and others.
No matter what path Gibbs’ career takes moving forward, one thing will always be abundantly clear: she is a fighter. And with her off-court battles conquered, there’s little doubt her biggest on-court moments are just over the horizon.