Former Wimbledon junior champion Sofya Zhuk wowed fans on Instagram with a bikini video as they called for her to return to tennis.
The Russian, who now lives in Miami, Florida, posted a brief video on the social media platform in which she could be seen adjusting a flowery bikini as she showed off her figure.
Compatriot Anna Kalinskaya – who stunned Sloane Stephens in the first round of the US Open last year and dated Aussie tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios – replied: “Intellectual load 10/10.”
One fan appeared to misunderstand Kalinskaya’s intent with that comment, writing in response: “I love such toxic and envious ‘friends.’”
The 21-year-old clarified, adding “I adore Sofya,” to which Zhuk replied with several heart emojis.
Others were similarly supportive – flame emojis were a common reply – while others said: “Wah??? I’ve gone cross-eyed! Lol” and “like butter wouldn’t melt.”
Another fan was less enthusiastic, responding “nice tennis training” alongside a ‘rolling-eyes’ emoji.
One fan asked 20-year-old Zhuk who would be there to challenge for Russia at Grand Slams in an apparent suggestion that she should make a court comeback, to which the former teen star replied that she has not played in more than a year.
Zhuk last played in the first round of qualifying for Wimbledon 2019, in which she was defeated in three sets by Varvara Lepchenko.
The Moscow native won the girls’ junior title at Wimbledon in 2015 at the age of 15. Despite being unseeded, she did not drop a single set in the competition and triumphed 7-5, 6-4 over compatriot Anna Blinkova in the final.
Zhuk, who reached a career-high rating of 116 in December 2018, has a 123-66 record in singles matches with career earnings of $400,000.
However, a chronic back injury has forced her to put her tennis career on hold indefinitely.
“Even before Junior Wimbledon, my back was so bad that no doctor wanted to even help me out,” she said.
“My body doesn’t absorb protein well, and the discs in my spine are all over the place,” she added. “I’ve taken MRIs that show the firmness of my spine is the equivalent of a 50 or 60-year-old.”
Zhuk has turned to modelling since her tennis career ended, but she has said she would like to return to the sport in some capacity even if she can’t play.
“I like the idea of working around tennis, being able to help players with the experience I gained from being on the inside,” she said. “I feel like I can relate to the players on a different level, something that comes from when you’ve been on the tour as opposed to being something like an outsider.”