At age 80, Inge Weber is a three-time world tennis champion. She is an inspiration to octogenarians and to people of all ages, not only for her extraordinary feat but for winning all three championship titles with a new pair of hips!
Before winning the Super Seniors World Individual Tennis Championships in 2012, 2014 and 2016, Inge underwent surgeries at the Holland Centre to replace her hips. She had her first surgery in 2010. Eight months later she had her second.
“I was in such pain before the operation. It was bone on bone from all the wear and tear”, she says. “I know I should have had it done sooner, but I just kept putting it off. The pain meant there was no hesitation to choose surgery. I just wanted to get rid of the pain.”
Four months after each surgery she was back on the tennis court but doing controlled hitting only with minimal movement and pivoting. “Your balance is not quite there, and I didn’t want to make the wrong step. As time went on, the safer I felt, the more I moved. It was only after a year after each surgery, that I felt fully comfortable, both mind and body,” she says.
She says she pushed for her own personal best and encourages others to do the same in whatever they enjoy. “When it came to the tennis competitions, I wondered if I could ever win. I had always dreamed about it, and told myself, there’s no way! They’re all so much better than I am,” says Inge.
“After a while, as I kept working on my game, I realized – they’re not much better than I am, but they do have more confidence. Once I saw that, I knew I could push it! That I could do it!”
But even with such stellar athleticism, Inge also sees herself like many aging Canadians whose hips and or knees ‘give out’ and who experience excruciating pain and fear of loss of independence from not being able to walk and move freely again, even after surgical treatment. “The older we are, the more cautious we get – I don’t want to fall,” she says.
Having been through two hip surgeries, Inge advises that you can get back to the level you were before. “Think about how you felt before the pain began, and work hard and push yourself, to get back to that place,” she says.
“In both cases [her surgeries], you have to keep moving and exercising. This is just the first part of your journey back.” She says to do exercises more often but at a moderate level, instead of big exercises all at once!
“You have to be determined! You have to motivate yourself to get back to carrying on with a normal life. Do a little bit more day after day. Go a little further each time.”
She also advises people to try to get as fit as possible before surgery, especially strengthening, prior to surgery, the muscles around the specific area. “That way”, says Inge, “…it’s likely a bit easier to pick up, where you left off!