Car­ry­ing on with baby on board

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

LON­DON — Mandy Minella wanted Wim­ble­don, be­cause of its pres­tige, to be her fi­nal event be­fore giv­ing birth to a daugh­ter in De­cem­ber.

That’s de­spite the doc­tors she con­sulted say­ing she could still keep play­ing for months to come.

“I was sur­prised,” the 31-year-old Minella said. “I thought they would be more cau­tious, but some said, ‘At six months, maybe the belly would (be) in your way.’ I thought, ‘Maybe at six months? I won’t do that.’ ”

Ser­ena Wil­liams, a 23-time Grand Slam cham­pion, an­nounced in April that she is preg­nant — and won the Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary while with child. Vic­to­ria Azarenka, also a former top-ranked player, is mak­ing her sec­ond tour­na­ment ap­pear­ance after hav­ing a son.

The 82nd-ranked Minella, from Lux­em­bourg, re­vealed after her first-round loss to Francesca Schi­avone on Mon­day that she is four months preg­nant and will end her sea­son once her run in the dou­bles tour­na­ment ends.

That hap­pened on Thurs­day, as she and dou­bles part­ner Anas­tasija Sev­as­tova lost to qual­i­fiers Ipek Soylu and Varatchaya Wongtean­chai 6-1, 7-6 (2).

Minella said she found out she was preg­nant on March 23, the day be­fore she lost to Svet­lana Kuznetsova in the sec­ond round of the Mi­ami Open.

She en­tered seven other WTA tour­na­ments be­fore mak­ing her fourth ap­pear­ance in the main sin­gles draw at Wim­ble­don.

“I’m very happy for her,” Azarenka said. “She’s do­ing it, and she ob­vi­ously feels good. Un­til the doc­tor says, ‘Hey, cut it, quit,’ it’s won­der­ful. I think it’s won­der­ful.”

Minella said she had al­ways ex­pected that she would fin­ish her ca­reer be­fore start­ing a fam­ily, so the tim­ing of the preg­nancy isn’t ideal.

She does, how­ever, have plans to re­turn to com­pe­ti­tion at some point next year — es­pe­cially be­cause in April her rank­ing reached the high-60s for the first time since 2012.

“I have an op­por­tu­nity to play Grand Slams again, to play big tour­na­ments,” Minella said. “I would like to get back in shape, also for me, and I would like to fin­ish on my terms as well, so we will see where it will bring me.”

FILE PHOTO

Mandy Minella com­peted at Wim­bel­don this week de­spite be­ing four-and-a-half months preg­nant.

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