Former World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki went down fighting in the fourth round of the US Open at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York on Sunday. Playing in her first Grand Slam since 2020, not much was expected from Wozniacki. But the Dane put up a brilliant display to show the world she was ready and serious for a second stint.
Wozniacki came into the tournament after suffering early exits from a pair of tune-up events in Montreal and Cincinnati but excelled in New York, where she took down 11th seed Petra Kvitova en route the round-of-16 before being eliminated by sixth-seed American Coco Gauff who is at the top of her game after winning in Washington and Cincinnati.
During her break from the game, the 33-year-old gave birth to two children. Wozniacki says her plan is to figure in the full programme next year. To come out of retirement is never easy for a player and Wozniacki admitted that she was testing the waters in New York before taking the leap.
“I wanted to see with these three events that I came back and played this year. I wanted to see where I was tennis-wise, where I was physically,” said Wozniacki after the Gauff match. “I’m exactly where I want to be. There are still a few things that I want to work on and can do better. But in general, I think it’s very positive.”
She has identified a weakness in her serve which, she said, let her down in New York, particularly in the first and third sets of the round-of-16 clash. She has set the goal of improving her serve before taking the court in 2024. While she has to improve physically, she proved that she still had a champion mentality. “I think that I can beat anyone on any given day,” she said at the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday.
While Wozniacki’s ‘second career’ is just budding, there are players before her and with her who have taken a break to be mothers and returned with grace.
Now retired, Serena Williams is the most familiar face in the contemporary sports world when it comes to ‘working mothers.’ Serena has the (joint) second-most Grand Slams, sharing the spot with Novak Djokovic with 23 titles. After a glorious career, the American took a break in 2017 to give birth to her daughter and came back to the court in 2018 to reach four Major finals before calling it quits in 2022. It was later revealed that she was pregnant when she won the 2017 Australian Open!