Interview Paris Tatiana Maria was the first mother to win two tennis tournaments on the WTA Tour. In the interview, she talked about being a mother as an active athlete, training with her daughter and demanding federations.
Mrs. Maria, as a mother of two children, a few weeks ago, celebrated your second championship win on the WTA Tour and thus made tennis history. Did this success change anything?
Marya Everything is the same at home. Having two children does not change the circadian rhythm (laughs). But I get more interest in sports. When I go to tournaments, many athletes congratulate me and the requests for interviews increase. But it took me a long time to realize what that means for tennis and for me.
Has the women’s professional organization WTA contacted you? After winning the tournament, they finally criticized the fact that pregnant women and mothers don’t find things easy on the tour.
Marya Nothing happened in the WTA and I’m afraid time will pass. But we players have it in our hands. Taylor Townsend recently won a championship after getting pregnant last year. So it’s becoming more and more common for moms to win trophies on the tour. Therefore it is necessary to have a rule that a pregnant woman is not considered infected. This is ridiculous. But it’s not just about the WTA – the German Tennis Federation didn’t do much for me either. I would have liked more support.
Many female athletes wait until beyond their careers before they want to have children so as not to put them at risk. What do you think should be changed so that mathematicians don’t have to ask themselves this question in the first place?
Marya We need more help in general. As mothers, we are currently unable to travel alone on the tour. There is no child care in most leagues, and you can’t leave your child anywhere. It’s different in Grand Slam tournaments – but there are only four tournaments a year. And there are no such opportunities regularly even in the upcoming major tournaments. It’s cute for kids though. In Grand Slam tournaments, everyone plays together – whether it’s Roger Federer or me.
Have you always realized how difficult the way back is?
Marya It was always clear to me that I would come back and play the Tour. Therefore, before both pregnancies, there was no doubt whether I would continue. We wanted to travel the world as a family and play tournaments. I admit we have the perfect combination because my husband is also my coach and Charlotte, my eldest daughter, also plays tennis.
Can you switch between being a mother and being a professional tennis player this way?
Marya At first it was a little strange. But I know my husband knows how to deal with children. When I go to the tennis court, I can focus 100 percent on the match.
What has changed for you as a result of having two children on the tour?
Marya Everything became easier (laughs). I enjoy traveling so much more. There was so much time in tournaments that you couldn’t do anything with it. Now I’m looking after my kids and it’s so nice to see how excited Charlotte is about so many new places.
What does everyday life look like to you then?
Marya My husband and I are comfortable on the road. It’s really easy because I train with Charlotte in the facility for two hours in the morning and then we do something together for school. I teach them myself, we always keep Cecilia awake until I get my match so she can sleep (laughs). In addition, my husband’s mother often comes with us.
Do you train with your daughter?
Marya yes! The talent was inherited from me and my husband (laughs). She loves to play tennis and I want to be a good role model for her. We play together from the base and then do basketball together. This is completely normal – we are true training partners. You don’t need a successful partner anymore. In tournaments I always say that others can play with Charlotte (laughs). They love to do it
When you travel as much as you do, is there even a home for you and your kids?
Marya I always love to come to Germany. I’m German and I’m always happy when I come back. But I feel super comfortable in the States and we will definitely stay here. Thank God Charlotte has no problem traveling. For her, it’s very normal to see the kids in one tournament and the others in the other. She has now found new friends and places to fascinate her anyway. We are simply at home in the big world.
Now you’ve gone to Paris for the French Open, you’re in the main draw, you’ve won the clay-court championship in Bogota. What are your expectations when you go there?
Marya It’s cliched: but I try to implement what I develop in training. This works better some days than others. But the tournament in Bogota showed that I’m on the right track. At Roland Garros, I just want to enjoy the tournament and keep the rhythm going. I have to feel good and be fit. Then we’ll see.