Serena Williams opens up on her ‘new respect’ for mothers after reaching US Open last-16

Serena Williams has revealed the massive down side to playing as a mum as the US Open become Mother’s Day today. Remarkably, three of the final five women’s last-16 matches involved parents of young children, with Williams leading the way against Greek no. 13 seed Maria Sakkari.

Another former world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who faces Karolina Muchova, is the mother of three-year-old Leo and Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova gave birth to Alexander 17 months ago.

Only three women have won grand slams after becoming mothers, Margaret Court, Yvonne Goolagong and Kim Clijsters.

Williams won the most recent of her 23 grand slam singles titles in Australia while pregnant with Alexis, who turned three last week.

And she admits that being a mum carries a massive disadvantage when it comes to playing tennis.

However, if she can make history by matching Court’s tally of 24 grand slam titles, she is keen nevertheless for it to be a family affair.

“I’m just so happy because there are so many moms in the event, obviously because I am one,” she said. “I just have a totally new respect for moms.

“I would never have though I would be playing as a mom and the plus is that one day your daughter can say she was there. Whether she remembers or not, we can always have pictures.

“But other than that, it’s just minus, because I am not with her. I’m not around her.

“It’s hard. For me, it’s hard, because I spend a tremendous amount of time with her.”

For 32-year-old Pironkova, playing as a mum has been unexpectedly rewarding.

This is her first tournament back since Wimbledon 2017 but she has already dumped out the champion that year Garbine Muguruza on the way to today’s clash with Alize Cornet.

“There was a time, maybe for one and a half, two years after I became a mum, where I didn’t really picture coming back to the tour at all,” she admitted.

In all, nine mums started the competition, but the two in the top half of the draw had both gone by the second round.

Meanwhile, Angelique Kerber became the latest big-name seed to crash out of the US Open when she lost 6-1, 6-4 to America’s Jennifer Brady.

The three-time grand slam champion and former world no. 1 – who won here in 2016 – was blown off court by the home hope despite the absence of any fans inside the Louis Armstrong Stadium.

It is the first time Brady will play in the quarter-finals of a grand slam for a first time in what has become something of a breakthrough year for her in which she has been a scourge for former grand slam winners.

Maria Sharapova, Ashleigh Barty and Garbine Muguruza had all been put to the sword before lockdown.

“Wow, it feels great, I’m so happy,” Brady said. “I played a spectacular first set. The second set I really just tried to focus on every single point.

“I was getting a little frustrated, I felt a little pain in my leg, but I just really wanted to close it out in two sets.”

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