At 8:30 am, a few hours before the start of the match at Wimbledon, Tatjana Maria goes to training. It’s a daily ritual that has served her well throughout the tournament so far, although she won’t end up hitting a ball.
That’s because her eight-year-old daughter, Charlotte, is a budding tennis star who practices every morning. Later in the day, Maria will take to the courts herself, which on Tuesday meant picking up the biggest victory of her career and a place in the Wimbledon semi-finals.
With her 4-6 6-2 7-5 victory over fellow German Jule Niemeier, Maria, 34, continued her remarkable run in SW19 – 15 months after the birth of her second daughter, Cecilia.
“It’s a dream,” she said during her on-court interview, “a dream to experience this with my family, with my two little girls. I mean, a year ago, I was coming to give birth.
Before Wimbledon this year, Maria had never progressed further than the third round of a Grand Slam tournament in 34 attempts. It’s no wonder she admitted to having ‘goosebumps all over the place’ as she soaked up the applause from the No 1 court – the site of her fight victory on Tuesday.
But as she prepares for her semi-final against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, Maria is unlikely to change her daily routine by juggling tennis and motherhood.
“I’m in the Wimbledon semi-finals and it’s crazy, but I’m still a mum, and after that I’ll go over there and see my kids and do the same thing I do every day” , she told reporters. .
“I’m going to change Pampers, just like usual. I try to keep (things) normal as much as possible. That’s what makes me most proud: being a mom.
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Maria became the sixth Open Era woman to reach the last four of a Grand Slam after her 34th birthday, following in the footsteps of Venus and Serena Williams, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert and Billie Jean King.
His journey to get there has not been easy. Four of her five Wimbledon matches have come in straight sets, and she had to save match points against Jelena Ostapenko in the fourth round.
But Maria has shown that fighting and battling on the pitch is in her nature. She proved it once again against Niemeier, 22, as she bounced back from losing the first set to win the second and then recovered from a breakdown to win the third.
“It’s kind of my life to show everyone that I’m still here and I’m a fighter and I keep going and I keep dreaming,” Maria said. “That’s what I want to show my kids.”
Against Niemeier, she frustrated her opponent with right side and backhand slashing.
She found her rhythm in the second and secured breaks at 2-1 and 5-2, leveling the game with a volley winner after Niemeier was forced to play a shot between the legs from deep in the field.
Niemeier, playing his second Grand Slam but ranked six places ahead of Maria as world No. 97, appeared to take control of the match with a break in the third set, but the inconsistency lost it.
She finished the contest with 11 double faults – all occurring in the first two sets – and 49 unforced errors to Maria’s 34. However, that didn’t detract from what was an entertaining and engrossing match, and the crowd responded with a standing. standing ovation as Maria won the first of two match points in the third set.
“I’m happy I was able to do it, even when I was down 4-2 in the third set,” she said. “I kept going, I kept fighting.”
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Maria honed her unorthodox style of play, which involves lots of rotations and slices, last year after her coach, husband Charles, suggested switching to only one-handed backhand – an unusual change for a player to do so late in his career.
But despite the risk, Maria says it has become a “super important” move in her game.
“At first it’s not that easy because you need confidence, you have to play the shot, you have to get the confidence in the shot,” she said. “I kept going and it’s getting better and better.”
Change, whether in tennis or in life, clearly suits Maria. She won her second WTA title in Bogota, Colombia in April and is now having her best ever run at a Grand Slam.
“A year ago I gave birth to my second daughter, and if someone told me a year later that you’re in the Wimbledon semi-finals, that’s crazy,” she said. .
Still, she will continue to take Charlotte to practice every morning as her daughter seems to enjoy the Wimbledon experience as much as her mother.
“Charlotte, she is happy to be able to stay two more days at the crèche,” laughs Maria.
“She realized it was something super special, so if I see her after (a game) she rushes into my arms and she’s super proud of me.”