Womens Tennis

Maria, mother of two, brings family business to Wimbledon run

Maria, mother of two, brings family business to Wimbledon run

It might not have fully sunk in, but 34-year-old Maria is quietly putting together a few remarkable accomplishments in 2022. Her 6-3, 1-6, 7-5 upset of No.26 seed Sorana Cirstea this week, from a double-break down in the third set, meant that she became the first mother of two to reach the third round of Wimbledon this century. It follows her second Hologic WTA Tour title in Bogota back in April.

“Some people like to do bungee-jumping,” Maria says. “I like to come back to tennis after having kids, I guess.”

The German’s first daughter, Charlotte, was born in December of 2013. She returned four months later and had her career-best results, cracking the Top 50 in 2017 and winning her first title, in Mallorca the following year. Maria’s second daughter, Cecilia, was born in April of 2021. It was always clear, she says, that she would resume her tennis career, which she did just three months later. She has already returned to the edge of the Top 100 at No.103.

“I’m kind of proud of myself to reach this point again,” Maria says. “When you start coming back after a child, you never know how it will go. I have to say, I have been really lucky with my body. I am not really the person who is injured a lot, so I hope it stays like this. I can play a lot, and I like to play a lot.”

What makes Maria’s feats even more remarkable is her unique playing style and the overhauls she has made to it over the years. During her first maternity leave, she switched from a double-handed backhand to a single-hander, honing her new stroke throughout her pregnancy. (Maria says that the major difference coming back the second time was that she made no fundamental changes to her game, consequently didn’t practice as much and therefore found it harder to get back in shape.)

These days, Maria’s repertoire consists of a web of slices and spins off both wings, allied to phenomenal touch at net and a keen tactical mind. In Bogota, she pulled off one of the shots of the year when she successfully drop-shotted Rebecca Peterson despite the Swede already being at net, loading the stroke with so much spin that it still outfoxed Peterson. Against Cirstea, Maria was repeatedly able to tie her more powerful opponent in knots.

“Before with my backhand I really played mostly slice,” Maria says. “I had a two-handed drive backhand, but I played it so little that when I came back, some people didn’t remember I…

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