A few days after the French Open ended, a message arrived at Taylor Townsend, the world’s No. 89. In a video posted on Instagram, she recalled the obstacles she faced during her short career and the resilience she had overcome. After that, she revealed that she would take maternity leave and ended up with a simple conclusion. “I’m sure this doesn’t make any difference, so I need to prove it wrong again.”

But perhaps she doesn’t have to prove that someone is wrong this time. Mother’s success on the tour, and more and more prominence, is one of the most notable stories of the year. Nine mothers participated in the US Open draw, with Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Tuvetana Pilonkova all making it to the quarterfinals. They have shown that everyone who wishes to give birth and return home has a clear career path. In recent months, former No 66 Mandy Minera, former No 12 Yanina Wickmayer, and Townsend have all announced their intention to do so.

When Azarenka and Williams returned to the WTA in 2017 and 2018, respectively, there were few rules to support their return. However, while she was on the WTA Players Council, led by Azarenka, prominent players used their power to force change. More childcare facilities are available for tournaments, a three-year maternity leave has been established at the WTA, and Williams’ forced return tournament has begun to think about seeding athletes after maternity leave.

Still the question remains: how should people talk about professional athletes who are also mothers? At the US Open, the topic of motherhood dominated player matches, press conferences, and surrounding debates. It peaked when Pilonkova and Williams faced each other and the court announcers met. Introduced them It’s as if they’re heading to their parents’ night instead of entering the Grand Slam quarterfinals with a $ 800,000 (£ 616,000) prize. “From Bulgaria, Alexander’s mother, Tuvetana Pilonkova,” he barked. “From Palm Beach Gardens of Serena Williams, 6th Champion and Olympia’s mother!”

Little is said about the fact that they continue to be ambitious and disciplined professional athletes with many aspirations unrelated to their offspring. Motherhood became essentially part of her brand when Kim Clijsters made a successful historic comeback in 2009 and won the US Open in her third tournament after retiring in 2007. It was not in perfect agreement with her own state of mind in the midst of intensifying competition.

“Many people say’mother’, but as a player, I forget that,” Clijsters said in a 2017 WTA Insider Podcast. What are you going to do now? Is your daughter waiting? Is she still awake? That’s always the case. But I never thought that way. “

Azarenka returned to the WTA more than three years ago, but even if she revived her career at the US Open this summer, motherhood remained a major theme. During the two weeks, Azarenka began politely and delicately pushing back in her interview. “Parents are the most important thing in my life, but I’m a tennis player on the court. I’m a fighter on the court,” she said after the quarterfinals. “I want to chase my dreams, my personal dreams.”

Last weekend, Azarenka ended the season by reaching another final in Ostrava. Before she got home, she elaborated on her thoughts on how people would discuss motherhood. “I’m not your mom,” she said with a laugh. “I think I can observe that I’m Leo’s mother, but I don’t necessarily have experience as a mother, so I think it’s like the point I’m trying to bring in. Mom I won’t win the match for me. To win the match, I still have to be a tennis player. “

Azarenka said she was very proud of how women’s stereotypes in sports changed, but emphasized the importance of allowing women to be seen as multifaceted individuals. .. Being a parent is already a big part, but being able to do things yourself is very important. I think that reducing the number of people in the box gives you more identity and more freedom to explore more. “

For Azarenka, that’s not difficult. Ten months ago, she missed the Australian Open due to personal issues such as a custody dispute over her son. She was thinking of retiring because she was far from her old appearance.

Her recovery, winning the Western & Southern Open and reaching the first Grand Slam final at the US Open since 2013, was amazing. For journalists, she has become one of the best players to cover on either tour. Her thoughtful, self-aware interview is from a fiery young man who kicked the door eight years ago to a well-balanced 31-year-old armed with a wealth of perspectives, although not easily suffering from fools. Shows her maturity.

“I’m Victoria. I’m a mom. There are a lot of things I don’t necessarily want to be recognized, but that’s me,” she said. “I want people to see everything else, and I hope there’s something exciting like a mom playing a tennis match.”

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