It’s one thing to achieve Grand Slam success. It’s another to achieve it whilst being a mother.
America’s great, Serena Williams in September last year gave birth to her daughter, Olympia. And after being away from the game for over a year, the 23-time Grand Slam champion returned to competitive tennis at the Fed Cup in Asheville, North Carolina.
Although, she and her sister, Venus fell to defeat in their doubles match against Lesley Kerkhove and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands, 6-2, 6-3, the great American is already turning in shape to rock the tennis world again. History, however, has shown that less than a handful of mothers have gone on to win Grand Slams.
Only three women, in the Open Era, have returned from maternity leave to achieve stunning Grand Slam success. Here they are:
Court won 21 Grand Slam singles titles before taking time out in 1971 and 1972 for the birth of her first child, Daniel.
The Australian would bounce back in 1973, sweeping clean the Australian, French and US Opens, and became the first mother to win a Grand Slam title.
Margaret Court’s 24 Grand Slam singles remains a record, with Serena Williams one behind.
Evonne Goolagong Cawley
In late 1976, Australia’s Goolagong Cawley stepped off the tour after finding out she was pregnant. In May of 1977, after giving birth to daughter Kelly, Cawley returned. That year, a scheduling quirk meant there were two Australian Opens, and the Australian returned just in time to win the second of those in December.
She also added a Wimbledon trophy in 1980, her seventh singles triumph.
Aged only 23, and in a serious battle with injury problems, Clijsters professional career seemed to be over, as she was forced to retire through injury and then she also gave birth to her daughter, Jada.
Clijsters, however, was tempted back in 2009 and she completed a remarkable sporting achievement by winning that year’s US Open, just 18 months after giving birth and while still unranked.
It made her the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since 1980. The Belgian would go on to successfully defend the US Open title 12 months later.
She later achieved further success, as she clinched the 2011 Australian Open title and rose to number one in the world rankings before she retired for good in September 2012.
Can Serena Williams join this exclusive list, and add to her 23 Grand Slam titles?
With little Olympia Ohanian Jr. watching from the stands in Asheville on Sunday, her supremely talented mother took baby steps on the road back to the top, teaming up with sister, Venus in the doubles’ rubber of USA’s Fed Cup tie with the Netherlands. Should the American go on to add to her Grand Slam tally, she would also become the oldest mother to win a major (beating Margaret Court, who achieved this feat at the age of 31 in the 1973 Australian Open).
The Australian Open came to early for Serena, but she will get three more opportunities this year- Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open- and no one is betting against the great American!