Saturday, July 16, 2016

Vika and the nine-month virus

I have to admit that my first impression of the news that Victoria Azarenka is not competing for the rest of the year because she's having a baby instead sort of blew my mind.

However, upon further reflection, I have to induct Mama Vika into the Tennis With Attitude Hall of Fame. But this required research. Honestly, my first thought was: "Please tell me she's not still dating that Redfoo dude." I don't think she is, so this kid should be all right. Phew.
But anyway, before we get into her TWAHOF qualifications, let's talk about her announcement. This line right here: "While recovering from the knee injury that I sustained at Roland Garros, I received news from my doctor that my boyfriend and I are going to become parents at the end of this year." This line is hilarious to me, because it suggests a certain level of detachment, probably due to shock. Bringing the doctor into this shows she hasn't fully wrapped her head around this yet. But she will. Fer sure.
The rest of her announcement, though, is pretty kick-ass and although she's a rich tennis player, she's right: There are lots of women who have families and successful careers. Being an athlete, of course, adds a bit of a twist. A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about the equal pay issue. I'd found a quote from Svetlana Kuznetsova, saying in essence that it's not as easy for women to choose to have a career and a family. It's true. But it's not impossible. 
Did you know that Kim Clijsters won the U.S. Open after having a baby? She beat both Williams sisters to do this. Not exactly luck of the draw, you see. The last time a mother won a Grand Slam before that was in 1980. So it's definitely difficult. It's so hard that even Clijsters didn't think she could do it. At first, she announced her retirement from the sport to start her family.
So Azarenka deciding right away that she can do both is a big deal. It's not a slight to women who choose to put all their eggs in either a career or a family basket. Believe it or not, there's no right way to do this life thing. Azarenka's choice to have a baby and stay in the game requires boldness, confidence and thumbing her nose at convention. 
Welcome to the club, Vika. 

No comments: