Nearly a year after they were first disclosed, Jessica Pegula opened up about the health struggles that her mother, Kim, has had over the last year in a heartfelt, personal essay in The Players' Tribune

In the essay, Pegula revealed that Kim, the co-owner and president of the Buffalo Bills NFL team and the Buffalo Sabres NHL team, suffered from cardiac arrest last summer, shortly after her daughter returned home from Roland Garros as a newly-minted Top 10 player. One of her other children, Jessica's sister Kelly, performed CPR until paramedics arrived, and Pegula wrote her sister's actions "saved [Kim's] life."

She added that she was spurred to share her family's story, the details of which have largely been kept private aside from the reporting of news of Kim Pegula's hospitalization in June, after Bills player Damar Hamil suffered an on-field cardiac arrest episode during a game in January.

How Damar Hamlin is inspiring Pegula at the Australian Open

"I texted my husband, Taylor, that the situation with my mom was weighing on me," Pegula wrote. "When can we start talking about it? When can I tell her story, my story, my family’s story? Everyone just keeps asking me. I really need to get it off my chest.

"Going into the 2023 Australian Open, I decided to wear the number 3 patch to honor Damar Hamlin. Ironically, yes, I was ranked No. 3 in the world. However, it didn’t feel like it was just for him, it felt like it was for my mom as well."

Pegula recounts that she and her family spent two weeks in the hospital, around-the-clock, and that Kim had made enough small improvements for her to play at Wimbledon with a heavy heart. Through the rest of 2022, Pegula reached a career-high ranking of No. 3, advanced the to the US Open quarterfinals, and won her biggest career title at the WTA 1000 in Guadalajara. 

"I still wanted to play Wimbledon if I knew my mom was O.K.," Pegula wrote. "My dad didn’t want me to play, but I knew my mom would be upset if I skipped because of her. So, if the timeline worked out, I was going to play."

"I went and played Wimbledon and won my first two rounds," she continued. "I was sick with a nasty sinus infection, probably from the stress of what had happened and living in and out of a hospital for two weeks. I had to deal with a lot of speculation and questions surrounding her health, even shutting down rumors that she had died. It wasn’t necessarily the most fun Wimbledon experience I remember. I had a few good wins, and I was proud that I was able to go out and compete considering the situation."

Today, Kim Pegula is dealing with significant expressive aphasia and memory loss as a result of the incident, though Jessica Pegula writes she is "improving every day." It has, nonetheless, been, and continues to be, a taxing experience for the entire family.

"Suddenly, I went from 'Let’s celebrate Top 10 in the world' to 'Do I need to start thinking about my career after tennis a lot sooner than I thought?' 'Does my dad and family need help?' 'Maybe I should just go back to school and work for the family,'" she wrote. "I am 28 and I take pride in being able to handle every situation thrown at me, but this was A LOT."

All those emotions came to a head after she defeated Maria Sakkari in Mexico to win her second, and biggest, career singles title

"I was uncontrollably crying in the locker room," Pegula wrote. "I am not a big crier, but I cried. It wasn’t even sad tears, it was almost happy, because I just had this feeling I was going to win. In my acceptance speech I dedicated it to my mom. I wanted her to know that even after a terrible six months, I still fought every day because of her. If she could fight through what she was going through, I could too. 

"It has been a tough year but at the same time I feel lucky and blessed. I am thankful she is still with us when other families may not have been so lucky. That she even had a chance at recovery when the first week in the hospital seemed so dim. Thankful for the doctors that aided in her recovery. Thankful that she is now home, that she gets to watch the Bills, Sabres, and my tennis matches. She never watched my matches before, because she got too nervous. Now she watches all of them.

"... Thank you to everyone who has respected privacy and shown me and my family tremendous support throughout this ongoing journey."