‘Band of Mothers’ reach US Open third round
Williams, Azarenka and Pironkova were part of a cluster of nine mums who started this week’s women’s singles tournament at Flushing Meadows.
Six of the nine, Kim Clijsters, Vera Zvonareva, Tatjana Maria, Kateryna Bondarenko, Patricia Maria Tig and Olga Govortsova, have been eliminated.
But unranked Bulgarian Pironkova, playing her first tournament in three years after a break to have her first child, prolonged her participation with a 7-5, 6-3 upset of Spanish 10th Garbine Muguruza.
Former world number one Williams also advanced with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan.
Williams and Pironkova were later joined by Azarenka, another former world number one who beat Belarussian compatriot and fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-1, 6-3.
Pironkova, who gave birth to her son Alexander in April 2018, says motherhood has given her a new perspective on her tennis career.
“Your priorities have nothing to do with what they did before,” she said on Sept. 3.
“Nothing is the same really. Right now I’m just happy to be playing. Having the opportunity for him to watch me also makes me really happy.
Only three women, Belgium’s Clijsters and Australians Evonne Goolagong and Margaret Court, have won Grand Slam singles titles in the Open era after having children.
Azarenka, meanwhile, said she hoped she could help inspire working parents everywhere.
“Pretty incredible, right?” she said when asked to comment on the nine mothers who started the tournament.
“I think to see that rise of women being able to fulfill their dreams, as well as balancing the motherhood, I think they all are heroes. I appreciate all of them.
“And I hope this continues to go on where women are inspired to do what they love to do but still being able to go after what they want.”