Champions aren't timid. The most memorable major titlists step into the court and silence their opposition. They put it all on the line and play as though they have nothing to lose.

Peaking inside the Top 15 in 2010, Aravane Rezaï almost had it all. Gone from the game for much of the last two years, the 28-year-old from Saint-Étienne speaks softly, but carries a big stick.

"I remember when I was at my best and played 100% of my capabilities," she told WTA Insider. "It was the best feeling ever in this world."

Born to Persian parents, the Stéphanoise has scintillating swings, and puts sensational speed behind each and every groundstroke.

"My game is definitely full power and, of course, more risky. More risk means more mistakes. I developed this game since I started tennis. It's not work we can do in a month; it's a lifetime of work to be able to play this way, like any player on the tour."

But Rezaï has never been just any player on tour. A human highlight reel, hers is a game built for big stages, for bringing spectators to their feet. Unseeded on the clay courts of Istanbul, she upset Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova to reach her first WTA final in 2007. Two years later, she earned her first win over a reigning World No.1 when she defeated Dinara Safina at the Rogers Cup.

Her most monumental moment, however, came that very next spring at the Mutua Madrid Open, where she beat a trio of top-flight players in Justine Henin, Jelena Jankovic, and Venus Williams to capture the biggest title of her career, launch into the Top 20, and land on many a shortlist to contend for major crowns.

Five years on and the Frenchwoman is more or less in the shadow of Grand Slam success. Physical problems and family discord triggered a depression that has seen her play only sporadically since 2013.

"Family issues are not easy to solve because as simple as they seem, you can't deal with family the way you would a stranger. We never want to hurt people we love.

"I was depressed for all the issues I had with my family and I couldn't be on the court, mentally or physically."

Robbed of the mental toughness that made her such an unrelenting competitor, Rezaï played just three tournaments in 2014, stepping further and further away from the sport, until it seemed like nothing at all.

"When I was off the court, I didn't want to watch any tennis or matches, just because I wanted to be cut off completely. I needed that."

She instead put her time into building a normal life, something that was hard to have while traveling to tournaments in father Arsalan's camper van.

"The opportunity of this long break in my career was to spend much more time with my close friends and family. When we are on tour playing tournaments on the other side of the world, it's not easy to share light and friendly moments."

The former No.15 finally returned to the courts in February, resolved to commence what she calls "a second career."

"I always knew I would play again, that it couldn't end this way. I knew I would try my best to come back to the top, but I also knew it would be more difficult than before. At the beginning of the year, I was mentally ready to push myself to work hard."

A packed house watched her play French Open qualifying - her first match in over 14 months - and though she wouldn't walk away with the win, she was pleasantly surprised to find a spotlight still waiting for her.

"It always feels good to see how much people are interested about my career and really want me to come back, and that gives me power and strength to work better and do my best on the court."

Her father and first coach is in her corner once more, while her brother Anauch serves as a hitting partner. Relieved to be reconciled with her family, Rezaï concedes there are certain challenges that come with balancing the roles of father and daughter, coach and pupil.

"My partnership with him as a coach is still fresh and I would like to try first before saying too much. He has changed a bit but still keeps this sort of fatherly protection around me."

Far from Court Philippe Chatrier, her second career has begun to take shape on the ITF Circuit; with two match wins at her first two tournaments following the French Open, Rezaï plans to use her protected ranking to test the waters on the WTA level.

"Of course WTA and ITF are different, but some of the high level ITFs are sometimes as good as WTA tournaments. But I don't mind playing ITFs, returning to the roots of the sport and challenging myself again.

"I am a competitive girl so I am fine with starting low and working again to try and be back."

A hallmark of her first career, that competitiveness is all she believes is left of the fiery young girl who first burst onto the tour in 2005, reaching the second round of Roland Garros as a qualifier.

"It's a new beginning, I am a better person and more mature, so I now react differently to situations. I do have a lot of memories, but the beginning of my career was all about learning."

Armed with a first career's worth of knowledge, Rezaï has made her return all about patience, hard work, and channeling her competitive spirit into a sport about which she remains deeply passionate.

"Tennis is one of the most beautiful sports in the world. During a match, you are put in situations that you have to face in life. It's a solitary sport, and on court, you have to deal with things on your own completely, physically and mentally."

In a sport that is mostly mental, the Frenchwoman fearlessly employed an all or nothing style. Motivated for even more success in this second career, Rezaï need look no further than the plethora of veterans who've enjoyed late-career surges to know she may yet have it all.

"Players like Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci prove that we can still play tennis for a very long time, and I am happy about that because I intend to play until 2024!"

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.