NCAA Womens Tennis

World on Her Racket

World on Her Racket

Célia-Belle Mohr’s first steps in tennis came with a gentle push: She didn’t so much choose to pick up a racket as accept the one placed in her hands by a loving mother.  

But her path from being the child of a soccer player in the south of France to living, studying and playing SEC tennis in the home of country music was forged with steps of Mohr’s own making.  

Urged on by her mom, who had long understood the power of sports to open up the world, Mohr crossed the ocean and faced a language divide to pursue her passion—embodying Vanderbilt’s mission of challenging herself and stepping beyond her comfort zone before she even arrived to take the place she’d earned on the women’s tennis team.  

“The most important thing is to believe in yourself and not be scared about what people think about you,” Mohr said. “Just be bold, go to new places. I’m very curious and very bold in a certain way, so I’m not scared of changing my social environment. And I would say that for the new generation, it is very important to believe in yourself and have a lot of self-confidence.”  

It was no surprise that Mohr ended up an athlete. Her dad was a swimmer. Her mom, who immigrated to France from Cameroon partly for better athletic training opportunities, played soccer. Mohr and her brother, who plays basketball, grew up around sports and internalized the lessons of discipline and time management at an early age.  

Mohr also participated in judo as a young girl, but some of her earliest athletic memories are of playing doubles tennis matches with her mom at their local club and helping out at a tournament when the women’s professional tour came through town. Even her first brush with sporting disappointment, when French pro Caroline Garcia didn’t hear the youngster’s pleas for her gear after a match, couldn’t dampen her enthusiasm for the sport.   

“I know that tennis can be very frustrating, but I love the fact that you need to be smart in the way you see the courts, how you see yourself on the court and your opponent,” Mohr said. “It’s just a love of reflection, tactics and even knowing yourself on the court. When I was little, I was just doing this for fun. But now that I grow up, I just understand this more. And I love everything about tennis, honestly.”   

It was her family’s other great focus—academics—that brought Mohr to a crossroads as…

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