Tennis legend Mardy Fish says he might not be alive if it weren't for his wife ... crediting her with getting him out of a really bad place with his mental health struggles.
Mardy joined us on "TMZ Live" Tuesday and got real with us about some of his bouts with anxiety, which became so overwhelming at one point he pulled out at the last minute from a big U.S. Open match with Roger Federer.... years before professional athletes opened up about their mental health struggles.
The way Mardy tells it ... his better half, Stacey Gardner, was able to pull him out from a dark place and change his perspective with some sage advice at a moment when he was having panic attacks every single day. The epiphany gave him the strength to withdraw from the 2012 U.S. Open match he was supposed to play. Instead, he faced the media and was candid about his issues.
Mardy went on to champion mental health and how it affects athletes in particular, who traditionally were trained to bottle up their emotions because it was viewed as weakness.
Mardy, who was diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder, is now mentoring young tennis players dealing with some of the same issues he went through ... and there's a new Netflix documentary on his journey, "Untold: Breaking Point." He's also the captain of the U.S. Davis Cup team.
MF says it's encouraging to see other athletes -- like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles -- speaking out about their own inner battles ... and tells us why it's OK for folks to let others know they aren't OK.