Tatjana Maria, before the 2015 AO

Dream comeback by Mama-Power
A year ago Tatjana Maria had to watch the Australian Open on TV. Instead of hitting tennis balls the order of the day back then was: changing diapers, spoon-feeding, singing lullabies and hoping for a little sleep.
At Wimbledon 2013, four months pregnant, she had played her last match; now Charlotte was born 13 months ago – but her mama isn’t even thinking about sitting at home and knitting little socks.
And why should she? Kim Clijsters, Lindsay Davenport or Sibylle Bammer have shown that with real mama-power you can play better than ever.
Comeback without help from the association
And Maria seems to be motivated by little Charlotte as well: At the Australian Open she played herself through qualifying into the main draw of the first Grand Slam of the season. Of course with her little daughter watching from her stroller.
Maria came back in April last year, without a ranking, but with a lot of happiness hormones and a big lust for tennis. For her it had always been clear that she wants to go back to playing.
Six weeks after giving birth Maria had started training again, worked hard for her comeback. And she did it without the help of the German tennis association. Despite her protected ranking Maria needed wild cards for smaller tournaments early on, but she didn’t get them. Whether she was considered too old with 27 years or they simply didn’t believe she could come back – who knows.
Luck in love after blows of fate
Maria doesn’t hold a grudge though, despite leading the Fed Cup team back to the world group on her own in 2007. Back then she was called Malek, now she is married to the French former pro Charles-Edouard Maria. And he had always encouraged her that she could make it back even without help of the association – backed by her family. And it’s working, Maria is already back to be being ranked 162. [Since the article was originally published Maria has won the ITF $100,000 tournament in Midland, USA and is now ranked #113]
In 2009 she had already climbed as high as #64 – and she did that after the worst year of her life. First she had suffered a life-threatening pulmonary embolism, then her father and long-time coach succumbed to cancer. After his death she played a career season, for him, with pure will power and total repression.
But then she ran out of energy, dropped out of the Top 200. Maria did not see the purpose anymore, quarreled with herself and was ready to end her career. But love struck and with her husband the joy of playing tennis came back.
Baby shower with the Williams sisters
Charlotte already is an old hand on tour. She of course gets her own credentials at tournaments, and with a German, a French and an American passport she’s travelling the world like a pro. And even more important: When mama is playing or practicing she sleeps. Parents of screaming babies will hate Maria now, but Charlotte is a tennis pro’s perfect child.
The nanny was left at home; she would have been out of work in Melbourne anyway. And if there’s a need for a babysitter the fist candidate would be Venus Williams. At home in Palm Beach Gardens in Florida she’s both a neighbor and has become a close friend. The Williams sisters had even organized a baby shower for her.
But for Mama Maria first of all the party down under shall continue, even if she has drawn a tough opponent in the first round, US Open semifinalist Peng Shuai. But Maria doesn’t really care. For her, everything that comes now is a bonus that she thoroughly enjoys.
Just like Charlotte’s bright smile when she comes back from the courts, no matter if Mama won or lost.
Translated by Katja

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