Tatjana Maria was excited. So was everyone else. A mother of two, ranked outside the top 100, just reached the Wimbledon semi-final.
“I mean, I tried to calm down a little bit in the locker room and to realise something, but it’s still hard to realise it,” said the German player who had just beaten compatriot Jule Niemeier.
Maria, who has never been ranked higher than 46th in the world and had fallen outside the top 100 to 103, beat Niemeier 4-6, 6-2, 7-5. Better, she was ranked outside the top 250 as recently as March and only returned to the tour a year ago after having her second daughter.
The 34-year-old gave birth to her first daughter, Charlotte, in December 2013 and returned to the tour four months later. She took a similar break after having second daughter Cecilia. But playing on the professional tour has not been easy since. She had won five and lost eight of her 13 previous matches at Wimbledon, with her best result a third-round showing in 2015.
Astonishingly, before this week, she had not won a match at a Major since the 2018 US Open.
A set each, the match was sent into a deciding third. Maria again had to overturn a break deficit and save a break point on her serve at 5-5 before converting her first match-point on the Niemeier serve.
“I love to talk about this,” said Maria. “I think for me that’s the most important in my life, to be a mom of my two kids. Nothing will change this. I’m here, yeah, I’m in the semi-final of Wimbledon, it’s crazy, but I’m still a mom. After this I will go out over there and I will see my kids and I will do the same thing what I do every single day. I will change her Pampers.”
Maria will face the mixed game of Ons Jabeur in the semi-finals. The Tunisian 27-year-old, who has never won a Grand Slam or got to a semi-final, dropped the first set against Czech player Marie Bouzkova but carved her way into the semi-final 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.
Jabeur, who has been installed as the favourite since world number one Iga Swiatek was beaten, has already surpassed her best run on the grass. She made it to last year’s quarter-finals with hopes now of being the first Arab winner of a Grand Slam.