Coming back to play professional tennis is difficult for anyone. What makes the transmission to not playing to instantly playing competitive matches if one has taken time off to give birth, however, is that you are leaving your small child behind. This is the balance that Angelique Kerber is currently trying to find.
After more than a year off from tennis, Kerber returned to playing at the beginning of 2024 at the United Cup. While she won just one of her five matches, each person she played had also been ranked in the top 35 of the WTA at some point in their careers. Not playing at all to playing that level of competition is a bit like going from zero to 60 in a car in just a few seconds.
Still, during a press conference leading up to the Austria Open Linz this week, Kerber said is both happy to be playing tennis again. She is also happy to have her young daughter with her as she travels to tournaments. The 36-year-old former WTA No. 1 isn't ready to quit playing.
Angelique Kerber happy to be back and Swiatek and Sabalenka battle for No. 1
According to Kerber, "On the one hand, I have to concentrate on my job and on the other, the focus is totally different. The focus is no longer completely on me. It’s on my daughter. And it's a nice situation to be in."
Speaking of WTA No. 1s, Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka might be deciding who is No. 1 in March by how well they play in February. Swiatek still holds the top spot, but Sabalenka just won her second straight Australian Open. The two could next face each other at the Qatar Open which takes place from February 12 through 25. The Qatar Open is a WTA 1000 event and Sabalenka currently trails Swiatek by 865 rankings points.
Swiatek is the defending champion at the event but as long as she reaches the final, even if Sabalenka wins, Swiatek will still hold on to the top spot in the rankings. Should Swiatek lose early and Sabalenka win the tournament, though, Sabalenka could regain the top ranking she held for a short time in 2023. This is another reason why the Qatar Open is worth watching.
Rafael Nadal racket sells for a ridiculous amount at auction
If you wanted to buy the racket that Rafael Nadal used during the final of the 2007 French Open, too late. The racket was sold at auction this week for $118,000. (I am assuming the person who purchased the racket is not going to use it while playing.) Nadal defeated Roger Federer in the 2007 final 6-3 4-6 6-3 6-4. The victory was Nadal's third French Open victory.
Nadal is still playing, though, so he could always add another French Open title this year. The next time he will play will be at the Qatar Open. On the men's side, that tournament will run from February 19 through 24.