LONDON (Reuters) – The return of Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka to the women’s tour following maternity breaks has focused plenty of attention on what needs to be done to encourage more mothers to play top-level tennis.
Azarenka is calling for more childcare facilities on the regular WTA Tour, while French Open organizers were criticized for not seeding Williams on her return to the event in May following the birth of daughter Alexis Olympia last September.
Belief - American - World - Number - Pregnancy
The common belief was that as the American had been world number one when she started pregnancy leave in January 2017, the 23-times Grand Slam winner should have benefited from some form of protected ranking.
Wimbledon addressed the situation by seeding her 25th, a considerable promotion from her official ranking of 181st.
Issue - Childcare - Facilities
The issue of setting up more on-site childcare facilities, however, is unlikely to be resolved as quickly.
The WTA’s senior director for athlete assistance, Kathy Martin, explained that the body’s responsibility was to ensure the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of its athletes rather than interfere in something “as personal as childcare”.
Childcare - People - Martin - WTA - Decades
“Childcare needs to be done properly with expert people who are trained and qualified and insured to do that,” Martin, who has been with the WTA for more than two decades, told Reuters in an interview.
“We’ve found over time, most of the players… would either find their own nanny or maybe bring someone else with them. It’s just like the rest of their team, as it’s not like we are giving them a coach for the week,”
Crèches - Events… - Everyone
“We do have crèches at some events… but not everyone even uses those.
“Most women who come back have finished breastfeeding but there is capacity at all our tournaments to provide private space if they want to say express milk or practical things like that.”
Williams admitted that while she would...
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