Mother Ser­ena ‘can fix ev­ery­thing’

Chi­nese great Li Na con­fi­dent of Wil­liams’ come­back

Global Times - - Sports -

Chi­nese great Li Na backed Ser­ena Wil­liams to pull off a quick-fire re­turn to ten­nis af­ter the birth of her first child – but said there was no way she could have rushed back to the sport.

Wil­liams, 36, has spo­ken of her “out­ra­geous” plans to de­fend her ti­tle at the Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary, less than five months af­ter giv­ing birth to her baby daugh­ter on Septem­ber 1.

Li, who an­nounced she was preg­nant two months af­ter re­tir­ing in 2014, said she wouldn’t have been able to leave her own young daugh­ter, adding that she had prob­a­bly only hit a ten­nis ball 10 times since quit­ting the sport and be­com­ing a mother.

“Ser­ena can fix ev­ery­thing,” Li said, re­fer­ring to the chal­lenge of be­ing a ten­nis-play­ing par­ent. “But if I think about my­self, I couldn’t do that. With a baby so young, I couldn’t leave them.”

Asked if she missed ten­nis, the two-time Grand Slamwin­ner told re­porters at the Wuhan Open that she han­kered af­ter the “fight and com­pe­ti­tion” but that she had left that side of her­self be­hind.

“Now I just fol­low,” said Li, whose daugh­ter is now 2 and who also has a baby son.

Other for­mer stars have won­dered whether Wil­liams, a 23-time ma­jor win­ner, would be able to re­gain top form so soon af­ter hav­ing her daugh­ter, Alexis Olympia Oha­nian.

Kim Cli­jsters, who re­tired for two years and be­came a mother be­fore re­turn­ing to win the 2009 US Open, said it de­pends on “how your body re­acts – ev­ery­body re­acts dif­fer­ently in those sit­u­a­tions.”

Wil­liams’ good friend Caro­line Woz­ni­acki said the new mother re­mained “fo­cused” on her come­back.

“I think she’s go­ing to do a strong come­back, but I think at the same time she’s en­joy­ing be­ing a mum as well and get­ting that whole ex­pe­ri­ence. I think it’s very spe­cial,” Woz­ni­acki said in Wuhan.

Li, a na­tive of Wuhan and a global am­bas­sador for her home­town tournament, ap­peared un­cer­tain as to whether she would be happy if her chil­dren grew up to be­come ten­nis play­ers.

“I would be happy of course, the sport can change you a lot, it can make a child stronger,” she said, adding that the con­stant trav­el­ing is “very tough.”

“It’s not easy to con­tinue for so many years, to do the same thing and [have] no time with fam­ily,” she said.

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