Two maternity leaves, adapting her game and travelling the world as a family: Tatjana Maria’s inspirational comeback

<a href='' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer'>Tatjana Maria</a> is through to the quarterfinals at the 2022 <a href='' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer'>Wimbledon</a> Championships.
Tatjana Maria is through to the quarterfinals at the 2022 Wimbledon Championships.

34-year-old Tatjana Maria is having a dream run in London right now. Entering the main draw with a 5-9 record at Wimbledon and having not won a single Grand Slam match since 2018, Maria is through to the quarterfinals at the grass Major.

Less than a year after returning from maternity leave to give birth to her second daughter Cecilia, Maria has quietly beaten everyone who stood in her path to become the oldest German woman to reach the second week at a Slam.

For Maria, returning from maternity leave to pick up the racquet was always the plan.

“Some people like to do bungee-jumping. I like to come back to tennis after having kids, I guess,” Tatjana Maria told the official WTA website. “I'm kind of proud of myself to reach this point again. When you start coming back after a child, you never know how it will go. I have to say, I have been really lucky with my body. I am not really the person who is injured a lot, so I hope it stays like this. I can play a lot, and I like to play a lot.”
Magical moment for Maria 💫After returning from maternity leave less than a year ago, Tatjana Maria reaches her first Grand Slam QF#Wimbledon

The German has paused and resumed her career twice. Her first daughter Charlotte was born in December 2013. She returned four months later and had her career-best results, entering the top 50 in 2017 and winning her first title in Mallorca the following year.

Her second daughter Cecilia was born in April of 2021. She has since returned to the tour and is on the edge of the top 100 at the moment.

When Tatjana Maria came from 3-0 down in the final set to defeat Sorana Cirstea in the second round of Wimbledon this year, she registered her first top-50 win in over two years. In the third round, she beat fifth seed Maria Sakkari to reach the second week of a Major for the first time in her career, in her 35th appearance at a Grand Slam.

In the fourth round, she continued her dramatic run by saving two match points to send Jelena Ostapenko packing.

Tatjana Maria, a year after returning from her second maternity leave, the oldest woman left in the draw, saves two match points to beat Jelena Ostapenko 5-7, 7-5, 7-5.She's into the Wimbledon quarterfinals.What a match.

While she remains a strong opponent on the court, she has had to change and adjust her style since becoming a mother. She switched from a double-handed backhand to a single-hander during her first maternity leave, honing her new stroke throughout her pregnancy.

“Before with my backhand I really played mostly slice. I had a two-handed drive backhand, but I played it so little that when I came back, some people didn't remember I used to hit with two hands. Because I had the slice, I had the footwork for a one-handed backhand already. Now, when I hit with one hand, it feels like I did it all my life,” Maria stated.
Two match points saved. What a feeling 🙌#Wimbledon | @Maria_Tatjana

That said, she’s not the most famous mother to compete at Wimbledon 2022. That honor, most would agree, belongs to Serena Williams. She is, however, the last mum standing at SW19.

Maria believes that she can be a role model in life for her children by playing professional tennis, much like the 40-year-old Williams.

“I know her well, and it's great for tennis to have her back. She goes out on court and she will fight to the last point. It's what I was saying about being a role model, it's important for kids to see,” Tatjana Maria said.
“Charlotte was so excited watching her this week, she wanted to stay up and watch the match live. It was super special to see what she means to the kids, to the next generation, to show them what it means to be a fighter and to go out there and to fight to the end,” she added.

“He's amazing, he's the one who believes one million percent in me” - Tatjana Maria on her husband and former ATP player Charles-Edouard Maria

Tatjana Maria celebrates after defeating Jelena Ostapenko at Wimbledon 2022.
Tatjana Maria celebrates after defeating Jelena Ostapenko at Wimbledon 2022.

For Tatjana Maria, her husband Charles-Edouard Maria is crucial to her success. Beyond backing her and supporting her throughout her playing career, he does most of the work taking care of their children as they travel the world.

“He's amazing, that's true. He's the one who believes one million percent in me. He's here every day saying, 'I know you can do this, I know you can come back.' If you hear this from a person all the time, it gives you a lot of confidence,” Tatjana Maria said.
“He's taking care of the kids — he needs to. But he loves it. He loves his girls — he has only girls and he's super happy about that. But you know, we do this together. We stay like a family together. That's for us the most important. My career, his career — at the end of the day it's our career. It's a family business, let's say,” she added.

She may be making the moves up the rankings and plotting Grand Slam triumphs, but the ultimate focus for Tatjana Maria and her husband remains their daughters.

“At the end of the day, tennis is a nice sport. Sometimes, for sure, it's hard. But for your life, I think it's a super lesson. That's what we like to teach them travelling around, meeting new friends, experiencing different cultures, to see the world a little bit,” Maria said.

They have deliberately broken from the norm and enrolled their kids in online classes, as they travel across the world as a family.

“We chose this education for Charlotte, to travel around the world and do online school. It's different to other people, we know. It's also something we will do for Cecilia. I think it works, I think it shows her something different. It's a different life. But they're growing up in tennis — even the little one, she has a tennis racquet in her hand — and that's the point,” Maria said.

Edited by Keshav Gopalan


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