August 5, 2020

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Shoutout to the WTA foot soldiers on Mother’s Day

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Superstar tennis moms like Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka get the lion’s share of the “Happy WTA Mother’s Day” type stuff.

But there are many others who don’t get that attention, who travel on tour with young children out of necessity and for whom every day is a challenge.

In many cases, the women have their husband as coach. So it’s sort of a travelling family business of sorts.

Here’s a Mother’s Day tribute to some of them.

The Bondarenkos – a family affair

Kateryna Bondarenko was 26 when she gave birth to her daughter Karin. And Karin was a regular fixture around the Tour after Bondarenko returned.

By 2018, it was family time at Indian Wells as Bondarenko was joined by older sister Alona who – as you can see – was quite pregnant with her second child.

Since then, Bondarenko has added daughter Eva to the family. Born in Feb. 2019, that means Kateryna got pregnant just a few months after this – and that the sisters’ two siblings are less than a year apart.

Bondarenko and Canadian Sharon Fichman won the doubles at Monterrey this year – shortly before tennis shut down and right around Eva’s first birthday.

Minella and Govortsova – just two moms hitting up

One morning at the Australian Open a year ago, two moms hit the practice court together – with one baby.

Mandy Minella‘s daughter Emma Lina was born in Oct. 2017 – just four months after the player from Luxembourg competed at Wimbledon.

Friend Olga Govortsova joined her, with son Dominic born in Feb. 2018, being looked after by her mom.

It’s not something that happens every day on the WTA Tour.

The two families booked places in Melbourne next to each other, and formed a nice alliance in terms of helping each other deal with all the extra work and logistics involved.

As the (bad) luck have it, the draw decreed that the two met each other a couple of days later in the second round of the qualifying.

It was a tough, dramatic one, won by Govortsova 7-5 in the third set. The greeting at the net was, understandably, not quite as warm and fuzzy at the end of the match as it was at the end of the practice!

Evgeniya Rodina a trailblazer

The 31-year-old Russian was a very young Mom – at 23 – and returned to the Tour shortly thereafter.

Back in 2015, her daughter Anna wasn’t quite 2 1/2 and as Rodina was warming up before a big main-draw match against Katerina Siniakova, there was some child care doing on at the same time.

Three years later, Anna is nearly 5 1/2 and an old hand at this tennis tournament thing. Also, lucky of the draw – she’s a lefty!

Tatjana Maria expecting No. 2

Germany’s Tatjana Maria, coached by French husband Charles, returned to play the best tennis of her career after having daughter Charlotte in Dec. 2013.

Here they are at the 2015 Australian Open.

The three have been a fixture on Tour ever since.

At Indian Wells last year, Charlotte badly needed a bug bite scratched in the middle of a warmup – no problem for the multitasking mom.

In March, after tennis shut down, Maria announced that she was expecting her second child – but fully intended to come back to the Tour afterwards. Her timing was pretty sweet.

Patricia Tig returns to IW

Romania’s Patricia Tig started over from scratch – literally – in April of 2019 after having daughter Sofia six months before.

She went down to the entry-level Futures circuit in Cancun, Mexico for 2 1/2 months to begin the tough job of going from … no ranking, to the top 100 area she once resided in.

Less than a year later, she was back at Indian Wells, having just reached the best ranking of her career – No. 80 – that week.

Patricia Tig and her family after a practice at the BNP Paribas Open in March. (Stephanie Myles/Opencourt.ca)

After wins, Shvedova is back

Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan one-upped her WTA Tour colleagues when she gave birth to twins in Oct. 2018 (2018 was a pretty big baby year).

She took her time to return, and was back on court in 2020 with a protected ranking.

Shvedova’s first singles match since the 2017 French Open took place in Doha in February.

The former singles No. 25 (and doubles No. 3) was due to play Indian Wells for the first time in three years.

Mom-of-twins Shvedova on the practice court at Indian Wells in March. (Stephanie Myles/OpenCourt.ca)