Margarita Gasparyan, a cult favorite because she was one of the rare women in the upper echelons of the game with a one-handed topspin backhand, is finally planning to come back to the WTA Tour.
Gasparyan’s last match was a first-round loss at Roland Garros back in 2021 – nearly a year and a half ago.
But she has entered several warmup tournaments and the Australian Open this coming January.
You might not recognize her name, though.
She’s now known as Margarita Betova.
Maybe that will change her luck.
Now 28, Gasparyan/Betova was 26 when she made the final of the St. Petersburg WTA tournament (currently on hold) in Feb. 2021.
She retired in that final against Daria Kasatkina because of a back issue.
She then lost in the first round of her next five tournaments, ending with a 6-0, 6-1 loss to Ann Li in Paris.
And she hasn’t been seen since.
Turns out there were some very good reasons for that.
According to her Instagram, Gasparyan-Betova got married the following month. Her husband is Belarussian former player Sergey Betov.
And then, on Dec. 23, 2021, she gave birth to a baby boy.
In May, she stepped back on the court.
It wasn’t the first time the Russian had been out; it feels like it’s been a regular feature of her star-crossed career.
But at least this time it was for a happy reason.
After reaching a career high in singles of No. 41 early in 2019, Gasparyan retired from six tournaments the rest of that season.
Notably, at Wimbledon, she was late into the second set of a match against Elina Svitolina (having won the first) when she had to stop because of a knee issue.
And she seemed to usually have her right shoulder taped up.
So hopefully the new mom feels ready to make the date as planned in January and at 28, start a new phase of her career.
Plenty of other players have shown just how well that can be done.
Gasparyan’s protected ranking will be No. 100, making her one of at least six (so far) players who will enter the 2023 Australian Open with a special ranking. That will move up the cutoff significantly for the other players in the field.