Caroline Wozniacki feels respected but wants more support for mothers on tour

Caroline Wozniacki insists she feels respected following her return to tennis but she believes more needs to be done to support mothers on tour.

The former world number one came out of retirement last summer after a gap of three-and-a-half years, during which time she had two children.

Wozniacki’s father and coach Piotr caused a stir last month when he castigated the sport in an interview in the Polish media, calling women’s tennis “pathological” after the Italian Open and French Open both declined to give his daughter a wild card.

Piotr suggested Wozniacki was so frustrated she would hang up her racket again before next season, but that was shot down by the Dane.

Wozniacki told the PA news agency: “I think sometimes my dad gets a little ahead of himself. It’s definitely not something we’ve talked about.”

The 33-year-old is one of a growing band of mothers on tour but the length of her absence means, unlike Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber, she does not have a protected ranking and has been relying on wild cards to enter the big tournaments.

Until recently, she had not found those hard to come by and she does not share her father’s view that she has been disrespected, although she does believe more needs to be done in terms of understanding the needs of mothers.

Caroline Wozniacki clenches her fist
Wimbledon is the only grand slam where Wozniacki has not reached at least the quarter-finals (Steven Paston/PA)

“I think I’ve been treated very well,” she said. “The tournaments have really embraced me coming back and with kids.

“Where I do share my view, and where a lot of other women on tour share the view, is I think there should be more done for women coming back from maternity leave.

“It has been looked at because obviously there’s more players now that want to come back but, at the same time, it’s not the same as coming back from an injury.

“As someone who came back after almost four years, I think when you give birth and for the body to recover, you’ve grown a human inside you, there’s a lot of changes that are happening in the body after that.

“I think in general women deserve more time to feel, ‘OK, now I’m ready, I can really prepare and get ready for competing at the highest level’.”

Wozniacki has requested a wild card from Wimbledon, and the All England Club’s track record of recognising big names who have not secured direct entry means she has every reason to be hopeful, with the first players to be announced on Wednesday.

Wimbledon is the only grand slam where Wozniacki has not reached at least the quarter-finals but, having played in the legends event last year, she is eager to return to the main draw for the first time since 2019.

“We’ll see what happens, I’m hoping for the best,” said the former Australian Open champion, who was due to begin her grass-court campaign at the Rothesay Classic in Birmingham on Tuesday.

“I have so many special memories. I won junior Wimbledon back in 2005, so it’s a long time ago. There’s something so special about playing on Wimbledon’s Centre Court that you can’t replicate anywhere else.”

Wozniacki is also excited to potentially share the experience with her children, three-year-old Olivia and one-year-old James, who travel with her on tour.

“It’s just so special and something I never thought I’d have the opportunity to do,” she said. “It’s very hard as well because it’s like having two full-time jobs. It’s definitely exhausting, but it’s definitely worth it.

“My son is too young but Olivia does understand. She’ll tell everyone when she watches tennis on TV, ‘My mum plays tennis and she’s so good’. She’s my hype woman and I love it.”

As for whether this season could be the end of her comeback, Wozniacki is listening to her body rather than her father.

“I’m taking it week by week and tournament by tournament and seeing how my body’s feeling,” said the Dane.

“Right now I feel great and, when I feel great, that’s awesome and I’m going to keep playing. If I start feeling like my body’s hurting and I can’t do it, or if it’s too much, then we’re going to re-evaluate.

“But right now I feel good and I’m just so happy to be part of this again and playing against the best players in the world. There’s really no better feeling than that.”

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