Tatjana Maria, one of the better but underrated professional women’s tennis players in the world still acknowledges that the thought of Charlotte, her 3 year old daughter, does cross her mind in between game points in a match. Victoria Azarenka, a former World #1 tennis player from Belarus quipped how her 6 month old Leo doesn’t really care about how good his mommy is on the tennis court.
Azarenka, a wild card entrant to Wimbledon returned after having participated in the Mallorca Open in Spain, on the 19th of June, this year. This was after a one year sabbatical from tennis that followed her first round exit at last year’s French Open before discovering that she would be a mother in a few months’ time. Then, there was Leo in December.
Things with professional tennis players are straight forward; they’ve got to be absolutely in the game, focusing on the next point that is to be won and also the strict practice regimen that goes hand in hand. However, when you’ve just had a baby, the equation can be different.
As a recently-turned-mother, Victoria admitted that she would feel a little apprehensive leaving little Leo behind while leaving for tournaments, in spite of being in good care of her boyfriend.
While Azarenka’s life isn’t living from one suitcase to another anymore, world tennis may witness one more champion mom soon in Serena Williams. After having won the Australian Open in January, World #1 Serena Williams announced that she was already eight weeks pregnant.
Another success story is that of Kim Clijster’s of Belgium. Kim outdid her own run in the Slams by bagging three (out of a total tally of 4) Grand Slams post a long stint at motherhood. Jada was born in 2008, but the time before her birth was a bit of a whirlwind for the Belgian superstar. She had retired from the circuit in 2007 and then came back in 2009, winning at Flushing Meadows that year; a story of an unranked, unseeded and certainly unheralded female player to win a Major and the first mother to do so since 1980.
In the bygone era, when athleticism wasn’t as much stressed on, Margaret Court, Evonne Cawley and Lindsay Davenport (until much recently) had scripted their respective success stories, got back on the circuit, won Majors before finally calling it a day.
Call of Duty
The challenges aren’t restricted to being a mother only; it also entails the logistics of caring for a child and managing their travel, time and identity. Professional tennis isn’t just about Grand Slams; it means long strenuous hours of training as well as participating in all the ATP tournaments all over the world that takes care of your rankings and form. These, accompanied by the bodily changes, make deciding on a return a difficult one.
Motherhood is beautiful. It can become an all the more enjoyable experience if the necessary support systems are in place, especially for first-time mothers. It can be safely concluded that most professional tennis players treat motherhood as a refreshing break and not the end of their careers.