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Tatjana Maria – a fairy tale at Wimbledon

Tatjana Maria celebrates her victory in the Wimbledon quarterfinals against Jule Niemeier

In her success against Jule Niemeier in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, Tatjana Maria once again demonstrated incredible comeback qualities. Now the mother of two can even dream of her first Grand Slam title.

At the end of the match, Tatjana Maria could no longer suppress her emotions. An incredulous shake of the head represented the mix of joy, satisfaction, and relief for the 34-year-old from Bad Saulgau, who had just converted her match point against her compatriot Jule Niemeier. Even after spectacular point gains, she had largely refrained from emotional outbursts and seemed focused on the big goal. After the 4:6, 6:2, and 7:5 success, however, it broke out of her.

“I have goosebumps everywhere,” she said after the win. “I think we made the whole of Germany very proud with our match today.” Only for the fifth time in the history of professional tennis were two German players in the same year in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, there was only a direct duel in this round in 2012 between Angelique Kerber and Sabine Lisicki.

The biggest achievement of my career

Not many had credited Maria with this success. After all, the mother of two and the oldest first-time quarterfinalist had never made it past the third round of a Grand Slam tournament – and this success was seven years ago. Opponent Jule Niemeier also said before the match: “I don’t know if I’ll be here with two children in ten years, but I take my hat off to Tatjana for how she manages it.”

Tatjana Maria and Jule Niemeier before the German quarter-final duel in Wimbledon
Tatjana Maria and Jule Niemeier before the German quarter-final duel in Wimbledon

Away from the WTA tour, Maria and Niemeier are teammates – both play in the German tennis Bundesliga at the current leaders TC Bredeney Essen. But they played against each other for the first time at Wimbledon. In the Wimbledon semifinals, Maria now meets either Marie Bouzkova from the Czech Republic or third-seeded Tunisian Ons Jabeur. The 34-year-old currently seems to have reached her top level. This is all the more astonishing given that her career so far has been anything but smooth.

When she was just 20 years old, Maria suffered a pulmonary embolism at the tournament in Indian Wells in 2008, even threatened her life for a short time, and had to take a break for months. Only a year later she suffered the next stroke of fate when her father Heinrich died of cancer. 2012 proved to be a crucial turning point in Maria’s career – and personal life. In preparation for the US Open, her coach at the time sent her to a colleague in the USA. That colleague was Charles Edouard, who is now Maria’s trainer, husband, and father of their two daughters.

In 2013, Maria played in the first round of Wimbledon with a visible baby bump and announced after the match that she was expecting her first child. In April 2021 the second daughter was born. Now Maria lives with her husband in Palm Beach Gardens in the USA – and in a prominent neighborhood. Right next to her lives 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams, who was eliminated in the first round at Wimbledon this year. A close friendship has developed between Maria and Williams, both of whom also take care of each other’s children.

Maria criticizes WTA

In March, Maria sharply criticized the World Association WTA because, in her opinion, there was not enough support for pregnant women and mothers on tour. “In tennis, pregnant women are not referred to as pregnant, we are more or less among the injured players,” said the mother of two daughters in an interview with the ARD sports show. “I don’t understand that the WTA hasn’t created an extra rule for pregnant women and we have to use the rule for injured people.”

Tatyana Maria
Tatjana Maria with her husband Charles Edouard Maria

The biggest annoyance with this rule is the so-called “protected ranking”. If a player returns to the tour, this applies to all four Grand Slams, while the players only apply to two majors, Maria said. The “Protected Ranking” ensures that players after long-term injuries can play twelve tournaments with the same world ranking position that they had before the injury. This is to prevent professionals from falling back to a bad world ranking position after a long break and thus meeting high-ranked opponents early in tournaments. Show jumper Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann tries to achieve the same in equestrian sports.

Maria had also approached WTA boss Steve Simon with her request – but so far without result. Simon said he would think about it. Sportingly bitter for Maria is that after the exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes, the points that are so important for the world rankings do not count. That was the consequence of the ATP and WTA on the English decision not to let players from Russia and Belarus started. But when Maria looked incredulously into the box at her coach and husband after the match, she didn’t think about it. The dream of the first Grand Slam victory of her career is alive – and is now only two victories away.

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