Mother-of-two Tatjana Maria stuns Jelena Ostapenko to continue fairytale Wimbledon run

·3 min read
Mother-of-two Tatjana Maria stuns Jelena Ostapenko to continue fairytale Wimbledon run - SHUTTERSTOCK
Mother-of-two Tatjana Maria stuns Jelena Ostapenko to continue fairytale Wimbledon run - SHUTTERSTOCK

Given she had never progressed beyond the third round at a slam before this week, few would have tipped German mother-of-two Tatjana Maria to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

That possibility appeared even more remote considering the 34-year-old, now in the twilight of her career, returned to competitive tennis less than a year ago after coming back from her second maternity leave.

But that exact scenario played out in dramatic fashion on Sunday, when she stunned Jelena Ostapenko 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 to continue her dream run at SW19. It was a phenomenal fightback from world No 113 Maria - who was ranked outside the top 250 in March - which prompted Latvian 12th seed Ostapenko to storm off court afterwards.

“There's always the belief that I can do it,” said Maria, who gave birth to her second daughter, Cecilia, in April last year. “I mean, that's why I came back after the first one. It's why I came back after the second one.

“If not, if I don't believe I can do these things, then I would not be here. It doesn't matter how old you are, it doesn't matter how many kids you have, you just have to keep going and to believe in yourself.”

A highly-touted junior who never really delivered on her talent during her early 20s, Maria has reframed her career through the sphere of motherhood.

She was encouraged by her husband Charles-Edouard Maria - the former French professional who is also her coach - to switch from a double-handed to a single-handed backhand after her first maternity leave. It is a move that is clearly paying dividends.

Tatjana Maria saved two match points in the second set of a thrilling clash - REUTERS
Tatjana Maria saved two match points in the second set of a thrilling clash - REUTERS

“He said to me when I was pregnant, I would like to change your backhand to a one-hand backhand,” said Maria. “I said, 'Okay, at least I have my slice in case it doesn't work'. I trust him 100 per cent. He did a great job because I feel I never played anything else. It's a good shot for me and it's super important.”

Having saved two match points in the second set at 4-5 and with the crowd firmly behind her, Maria capitalised on an Ostapenko error to go up 6-5 in a topsy-turvy third set before sealing the match on serve to prolong her stay at the All England Club, where she has benefitted from Wimbledon’s highly-rated creche.

The oldest player left in a women’s draw that is wide-open, Maria also revealed she has been out on the practice courts with her eight-year-old daughter Charlotte this week.

“She knows that we are playing a Grand Slam, and she knows how important this tournament is,” said Maria, who is flying high on confidence ahead of her all-German quarter-final with Jule Niemeier.

“Maybe in myself there's this feeling now, ‘Okay, I can do it, I can go for it,” she said. “I always believed that at one point I can show what I can do. I'm happy that today I came back when I was down, so I'm proud of myself.”

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