Andrea Petkovic thinks Serena Williams' successful comeback from maternity leave might have increased pressure on other players to do the same. When Williams made her post-pregnancy tennis return in 2018, she was 36 and instantly made two Grand Slam finals.
Williams, a former 23-time Grand Slam champion, made two more Grand Slam finals before retiring last year. This year, Svitolina has made a successful post-pregnancy comeback as the Ukrainian made the Wimbledon semifinal and also reached the French Open quarterfinal.
This month, former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki returned to pro tennis after giving birth to two kids in the last two years. This year, two Grand Slam champions - Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber - also gave birth. At the start of the 2024 season, Osaka and Kerber are expected to return to tennis.
Kerber: Williams' pregnancy comeback might have increased pressure on others
"I think the WTA has put into place a few new rules that support coming back, which was much harder before. You wouldn't have got the protected ranking, so you had to go back to grinding on the Challenger tour, which is much harder with a kid.
So I think that's the systemic part. The other part is role models. Now, you see that it's possible. We saw Serena (Williams) do it. We now see Elina Svitolina, although now I have to ask myself if she now increased the pressure on people like Caroline Wozniacki, Naomi Osaka, and also Angie Kerber.
Because I think they were thinking, we will come back and, in Germany, we saw 'puppy protection phase,' where we are like, 'Oh, she was just pregnant, let's see what she does and we will re-evaluate after a year.' But now Svitolina is coming back so strongly, I think they will feel a little bit of pressure to do the same," Petkovic said on Tennis Channel's Inside-In podcast, via Sportskeeda.
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