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Trio of moms make US Open quarterfinals history

Trio of moms make US Open quarterfinals history

The week of Labor Day has transformed into a celebration of mothers at the U.S. Open.

Three moms are into the quarterfinals for the first time at a Grand Slam tournament in the Open era, and all three will be back in action on Wednesday, featuring a showdown between two of them, No. 3 seed Serena Williams and Tsvetana Pironkova.

Victoria Azarenka also has reached the final eight of this year’s bubbled, fan-less event at Flushing Meadows, where she will face No. 16 seed Elise Mertens in the quarters.

“That’s remarkable. I’m so proud of the ladies. It’s incredible,” Azarenka said on ESPN following her fourth-round win Monday night over Karolina Muchova. “I’m just really happy to see that. I hope we all keep going as far as possible. It’s inspiring.

“I hope it’s inspiring for other women that they continue to go for their dreams and don’t only identify as mothers, but continue to do what they want to do.”

There actually were nine mothers in the draw to start this year’s Open, most notably former world No. 1 and three-time Open champion Kim Clijsters, who was eliminated in the opening round in her first Grand Slam appearance since 2012.

Clijsters is one of only three moms to capture a Slam title in the half-century of the Open era. She won consecutive U.S. Opens in 2009-10 and the 2011 Australian Open. Aussies Margaret Court, who won three of four Grand Slam events (Australian, French, U.S.) in 1973, and Evonne Goolagong (1980 Wimbledon) also won majors after giving birth.

“I’m so happy that there are so many moms in the event, obviously, because I’m one,” the 38-year-old Williams, who is still seeking to match Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, said Saturday. ”I just have a totally new respect for moms.”

Williams’ 3-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia, has been a prominent spectator this year at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. At least one mom — either Serena or the unseeded Pironkova, who is playing in her first WTA tournament in three years and her first U.S. Open since 2016 — is guaranteed to advance to the semifinals.

“Well, everything in mothering, I guess it’s helped me,” Pironkova said following her fourth-round win Monday over Alize Cornet. “Obviously you become a different person. You don’t focus on yourself that much — your focus is primarily on your child.

“And I guess that’s a good thing. I’m a lot more organized, as well. Mentally, I have more mental endurance, also. Physically, I know my body better. … At this point it means a lot to be here after three years of absence. And this being my first tournament, having this great result, is something very special.”

The 32-year-old Bulgarian gave birth to her son, Alexander, in April 2018.

“I haven’t seen him in two weeks and it’s very tough, it gets tougher every day,” Pironkova said last week. “But I know he’s watching me. I know he’s proud of me, and it’s worth it.”

Williams, who owns a 4-0 career mark against Pironkova, clearly has enjoyed having Alexis Olympia present at her matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium, usually sitting alongside her father, Alexis Ohanian.

“She’s a fan of tennis,” Serena said Monday following her three-set victory over No. 15 Maria Sakkari. “She’s come to watch me practice, at least on this court. She loves when I practice on this court because she can sit and watch.”

Williams has reached the finals in four majors since becoming a mom, including the past two years here against Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu, but she is winless in four attempts to match Court’s mark.

“I would never have thought I would be playing as a mom,” Williams said. “The pluses are that, one day your daughter can say she was there. Whether she remembers or not, we can always have pictures. But other than that, it’s just minus, like, I’m not with her. I’m not around her. It’s hard.”

Azarenka, a former world No. 1, lost to Williams in the finals here in both 2012 and 2013. She would meet one of the other moms in the semis if she’s able to get past Mertens, who knocked out second-seeded American Sofia Kenin in straight sets Monday.

“That’s not the only thing that we are. We are also women who have dreams and goals and passions,” noted the 31-year-old Azarenka, who gave birth to her son, Leo, in December 2016. “I don’t know if I feel different just because [I’m] a mother. I don’t identify myself on the tennis court as a mother. I still identify myself as a tennis player.

“Me being in the quarterfinals, I didn’t get there by being a parent. I got there by being a tennis player. But it feels amazing that I can share this moment, and hopefully be a good role model to my son.”

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Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

About the author

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Christine Watkins

Christine founded Sports Grind Entertainment with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered Sports news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research.

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