The journeys of Azarenka and Pironkova were less celebrated but just as inspiring.
Two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka was one of the best players in the game, having won back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and Miami in 2016, before stepping away due to her pregnancy. She gave birth to her son, Leo, in December that year and returned to competition the following June, advancing to the fourth round at Wimbledon in her second tournament. Following a breakup with Leo’s father later that summer, she was drawn into a controversial custody battle that had a significant impact on her ability to travel out of the state of California.
Azarenka was forced to withdraw from the 2017 US Open and has since been unable to play consistently, as she continues to fight in court. His irregular schedule resulted in poor performance and his level of play suffered greatly. She is not allowed to give many details about the legal process, but she has stated on several occasions that she will one day write a book about it.
Due to the dispute, Azarenka was unable to play the Australian swing in early 2020.
She has since said she is considering retiring from the sport but has decided to give it one last try. He competed in an exhibition tournament in June in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky. Once the season kicked off last month. He lost in the first round.
Then she arrived in New York City – with her son and mother in tow – for the two tournament bubble, and hasn’t lost since. Azarenka pulled off the Western and Southern Open draw in the final, winning the title after Naomi Osaka retired before the game.
“This is my first title as a mom,” she said after the tournament.
He didn’t lose a set on his way to the round of 16 at the US Open and put in a dominant performance after a dominant performance, including a victory over No.5 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the second round. Azarenka will face Karolina Muchova on Monday (5:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
Pironkova, a 2010 Wimbledon semi-finalist, made her last touring appearance at the All England Club in 2017 before being sidelined for her pregnancy. She gave birth to her son, Alexander, in April 2018 and was done with tennis, until he was.
“I guess I just need to take my distance for about two years,” he said this week.
“Little by little I started to really lose the tour, I started watching more tournaments, I started following the players. I started making plans in my head, looking at the schedule , which tournament was right for me. ”
Prior to the US Open, Tsvetana Pironkova had not played on the tour since Wimbledon in 2017. AP Photo / Alastair Grant
Pironkova announced plans to resume competition on March 11, a day before the season’s suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. Unranked and having not played at an event for over three years, she was able to use her protected ranking for the US Open and came to New York with low expectations.
Like Azarenka, Pironkova dismantled her opponents in straight sets and knocked out two-time senior champion Garbine Muguruza, No. 10, and seeded 18, Donna Vekic along the way. He credits his son for his success.
“Everything changes,” he says of becoming a parent.
“Your priorities have nothing to do with what they did before. Nothing is really the same. Right now I’m just happy to play. Having the opportunity for him to watch me makes me very happy too.
“I don’t really know how to explain it.
It’s just great to play without that extra pressure that I had on myself before. Before, it was almost a life and death situation for me to win a game. Right now, it’s not quite that. It’s just fun to be on the pitch. ”
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Pironkova will face Alize Cornet on Monday on ESPN, with a quarterfinal offer on the line. Williams will continue her quest to make history with a match against Maria Sakkari at Arthur Ashe Stadium at noon ET on ESPN.
While the three remaining Moms would love to hoist the trophy next weekend at Arthur Ashe Stadium, it seems clear to Azarenka that it’s not just about winning or losing.
“By identifying myself or other players as mothers, I think that’s not the only thing we are,” Azarenka said earlier this week. “I think being a mother [is part of it, but] it’s