Pironkova leads ‘supermoms’ record charge in majors

For the first time in Grand Slam history, three moms -- Serena Williams, Tsvetana Pironkova and Victoria Azarenka -- have made it to the quarterfinals

Tsvetana Pironkova

Tsvetana Pironkova’s dream run at the 2020 US Open continued as she beat France’s Alize Cornet 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3 on Monday to book her place in the quarterfinals.

“It’s absolutely unreal,” said Pironkova, who is returning to the tour for the first time since 2017.

“I really can’t believe that I pulled through today. I was just so tired at the end of the match, and I didn’t really believe I had it in me. I just kept fighting and fighting and it finally paid off.”

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Pironkova was one of nine mothers in the draw at the start of the event, along with Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters, Tatjana Maria, Vera Zvonareva, Olga Govortsova, Kateryna Bondarenko, and Patricia Maria Tig.

And for the first time in Grand Slam tennis, three of the ‘supermoms’ – Pironkova, Serena and Azarenka—have made it to the last eight.

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“It’s definitely really nice to see more and more moms every year,” the Bulgarian had said before the start of the tournament.

“Once you become a mother you don’t magically lose your ability to play. If you want to do it I don’t think there’s something that can stop you from doing it.

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“For me, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back because at one point I was already very tired. I played more than 15 years on tour non-stop and I had huge injuries that would take me away from the tour for a long period of time.

“At one point I wanted to take my time and enjoy the experience that I had, being pregnant and having my son. I wanted to experience that to the fullest.”

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Pironkova, who last played at Wimbledon 2017, took a break from the tour as she gave birth to son Alexander in the spring of 2018. On Monday, after beating Cornet and making her first US Open quarterfinal, the 32-year-old choked at the thought of staying away from her son for these past two weeks.

“It gets tougher every day,” she said. “I know he’s watching me, and he’s proud of me.”

Serena, Azarenka grind out wins

In the other round of 16 matches on Monday, Serena defeated No 15 seed Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-3, while two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka ousted 20th seed Karolina Muchova 5-7, 6-1, 6-4.

Though it hasn’t been easy going for Serena, who has been taken to three sets in the past two matches, the American has hung in to keep her bid for the 24th record-equaling major alive. The 38-year-old Serena will take on Pironkova next.

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Meanwhile, Azarenka will face-off against Elise Mertens, who knocked out 2nd seed and Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-3, 6-3 on Monday. The Belarussian is on a hot streak in New York: following up her Western &Southern Open title win 10 days ago with a run into the quarterfinals at the US Open.

Serena, Azarenka and Osaka are the three former Grand Slam champions left in the women’s draw.

Day 8 results

Women’s 4th round
3-Serena Williams d 15-Maria Sakkari 6-3,6-7(6),6-3
16-Elise Mertens d 2-Sofia Kenin 6-3,6-3
Tsvetana Pironkova d Alize Cornet 6-4,6-7(5),6-3
Victoria Azarenka d 20-Karolina Muchova 5-7,6-1,6-4

Men’s 4th round
2-Dominic Thiem d 15-Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(4),6-1,6-1
3-Daniil Medvedev d Frances Tiafoe 6-4,6-1,6-0
21-Alex de Minaur d Vasek Pospisil 7-6(6),6-3,6-2
10-Andrey Rublev d 6-Matteo Berrettini 4-6,6-3,6-3,6-3