Inspired By The Williams Sisters, Simona Halep Urges New Rules For Maternity Leave - UBITENNIS
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Inspired By The Williams Sisters, Simona Halep Urges New Rules For Maternity Leave

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Simona Halep (zimbio.com)

There were two things learnt from Simona Halep’s latest match at the BNP Paribas Open. The first was that she was tired, but pain free. The second was that she doesn’t consider herself the best player in the world when the Williams sisters are involved.

Taking on China’s Wang Qiang in the fourth round, Halep overcame a see-saw opening set to prevail 7-5, 6-1. Producing 16 winners alongside 27 unforced errors. In the early stages of the match, the world No.1 lost two break advantages before consolidating her third to seal a 7-5 lead. Then in the second set, she destroyed the Qang serve by breaking four consecutive times to claim the win in exactly 75 minutes.

“It was much better than the previous one, because the ball was coming flatter. I felt better, the rhythm, and also the touch of the ball.” Said Halep, who will next play Petra Martic.
“I think I played also much better in the second set. I got a rhythm, and I just moved her more than the first set.”

Besides the guidance sought from her mentor Darren Cahill, Halep had another source of inspiration. A day prior to her fourth round match, she was spotted in the audience at Indian Wells. Watching Serena Williams take on her sister Venus. It is rare that a No.1 player is seen watching her rivals play live.

Halep wasn’t just there to pass the time. She explained that it was for her to learn further from the two American players, who both debuted at Indian Wells before Halep’s sixth birthday.

“It’s always nice to watch them. I love the way that they are motivated and they are still playing at this age, Serena with the kid. So it’s a great thing what they do for sport, and it’s great that tennis has them.” She said about the sisters.
“It was really fun to come out here and watch the game. And also I have many things to learn from them. That’s why I’m trying just to go to watch every time I can.”

‘Serena should have been the top seed’

So far in her career, Halep has a losing head-to-head against both players. She trails 1-8 to Serena and 1-3 to Venus. Despite being the highest ranked player on the tour, the Romanian is adamant that she is not in the same category as her rivals.

“I’m the world No. 1 in this moment, but I just watched the best player in the world. I’m not thinking about anything. I just do what I feel. I felt to come because I admire a lot the sisters.” She explained.

Halep has also become one of the most high-profile players yet to urge the WTA to rethink their maternity policy. Under current rules, players like Serena loses points and fall down the rankings during their absence. One idea is the introduction of a ‘protected seeding’ that would safeguard their position. A motion endorsed by the 26-year-old, who described new mum Serena as the true No.1.

“I was thinking about Serena in this tournament, and also we were talking a little bit with my coach. And I think she should have been actually No. 1 seed in this tournament because she left as No. 1 in the world.” Halep believes.
“I think she should have been ranked as she left. Not taking the ranking because she didn’t play tournaments, but just protected ranking for — I don’t know how many tournaments you have, like, eight. She could be the No. 1 seed for that, for those tournaments. This is my opinion.”

It is currently unclear if the WTA is in the process of re-evaluating their maternity policy.

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Caroline Wozniacki’s Father Criticises WTA For Lack Of Help For Mothers On Tour

Caroline Wozniacki was not given a wildcard for Rome or Roland Garros.

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Piotr Wozniacki has labelled the WTA as ‘amateur’ for their treatment of mothers on tour as he claims that Caroline Wozniacki should have had more wildcards.

The former Australian Open champion has played ten events since she announced her comeback last year.

Wozniacki has recovered her ranking to 117 in the world and her comeback has resulted in a fourth round appearance at the US Open as well as a quarter-final result at Indian Wells.

However the Dane has not been successful in gaining wildcards recently with both Rome and Roland Garros not offering Wozniacki one.

It’s a decision that Wozniacki’s father, Piotr, has not been happy with as he explained with Sport.PL, “The WTA believes that it is operating in an amateur fashion in the world of the largest professional women’s sport of all sports in the world. They sign contracts with the players and the players are obliged to do certain things under these contracts. And what do they get? Nothing, really nothing!” Piotr was quoted by tennisuptodate as saying.

“All wild cards, and there were 8 of them, were given to the Italians. I understand promoting their players, but how can you give the right to play in a tournament of this rank to such girls who should not even think that they could play in a Masters yet?

“Caroline was number one in her ranking. She won a Grand Slam tournament, won the Masters, played in almost 60 finals of their tournaments and won 30. So we are talking about a complete tennis player, someone who did a great job, who certainly increased the popularity of tennis, who earned a lot of money herself, but let them earn money. even much more.

“And it turns out that when someone like Caroline Wozniacki comes back as Caroline Wozniacki and family, she is no longer welcome. We can’t even prepare Caroline’s starting plan! We train, we prepare, and it turns out that there is nothing to do.

“This is happening because today in tennis everything is based only on relationships, on acquaintances, and not on clear rules. The thing is that if we know the organizers or tournament directors, we get a chance to play, but if we don’t know someone somewhere, they don’t want us there.

“Naturally, after the maternity break, my daughter had zero points. It takes a lot of time to start from scratch and reach the top, but we would do it patiently, but how can we do it when you don’t let a girl like that work for it? The rules in tennis today are such that there is no longer a mandatory wild card for someone who was once in the top 20, had a long break and came back.

“This card was really helpful for tennis players coming back after having a baby and for those coming back from serious injuries. And now Caroline, Angelique Kerber or Naomi Osaka are dependent only on someone else’s decisions. Since last year, all wild cards are the property of the tournaments, and the WTA washes its hands of them.”

It’s clear the Wozniacki family is disappointed as the Dane could be set to cancel her comeback next year.

However there is optimism that Wozniacki will receive one at Wimbledon as she has had past success on grass courts.

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In-Form Iga Swiatek Not Taking Anything For Granted Ahead of French Open Title Defence

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Iga Swiatek says she must remain ‘humble’ heading into the French Open despite being a strong favourite for the title.

The world No.1 is on a 12-match winning streak after claiming back-to-back WTA 1000 titles in Madrid and Rome. A milestone that has only previously been achieved by Dinara Safina and Serena Williams. In her latest match, she dropped five games against Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the Italian Open. She now leads the Belarusian world No.2 8-3 in their head-to-head.

“I’m maybe chilled out compared to Madrid after the final because that final was so surreal. It is a little bit different. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m really proud of myself and really happy.” Said Swiatek.
“I’m happy I was so focused and disciplined throughout the tournament. I feel like I’m in the right place.” 

The confidence is high for the Pole heading into Roland Garros which she will be aiming to win for a fourth time since 2020. In the Open Era, only three women have won the French Open four or more times – Justine Henin, Steffi Graf and Chris Evert.

However, Swiatek is not underestimating the work she will be required to put in to claim another major title. She failed to reach the quarter-final stage at her two most recent Grand Slam events, the US Open and French Open. 

“Obviously I am confident. I feel like I’m playing great tennis but that doesn’t change the fact that I just want to stay humble,” she said.
“Grand Slams are different. There’s a different pressure on the court and off the court. Of course I love to come to Paris and be there. It’s a great place for me to be and I really enjoy my time there.
“But these are hard seven matches that you need to win so I don’t take anything for granted.”

The Grand Slams are the holy grail when it comes to ranking points with the champions claiming 2000 points. In the past Swiatek has focused on her tally and ranking but this year she has a somewhat different perspective. 

“I’m less focused on rankings and points compared to last year. I felt like last year I needed to always to chase. Even though I was first, I felt like I had somebody behind my back.” Said Swiatek. 
“But this year, I just feel like I can focus on myself and not think about that because focusing on rankings is never helpful, I would say.
“There are plenty of things to focus on that we need to spend our energy for, that is just a waste of energy to focus on points and rankings.”

The French Open will get underway next Sunday. 

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Iga Swiatek Demolishes Aryna Sabalenka To Seal Third Rome Title

Iga Swiatek claimed her third Rome title after a dominant victory over Aryna Sabalenka.

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Iga Swiatek claimed her third Rome title by dominating Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-3 to send a big message of intent ahead of Roland Garros.

The world number one completed the Madrid and Rome double with a sensational performance.

Now Swiatek is the titleholder for the three biggest clay court titles as she will aim to defend her Roland Garros title.

The contest was a rematch from the Madrid final but this was far from the three hour contest that was produced in Spain.

Swiatek raised her level of play while Sabalenka committed way too many unforced errors throughout the contest.

The Pole broke on two occasions to wrap up a comfortable 37 minute set as her forehand was doing a lot of damage.

There was a comeback in the second set from the Australian Open champion as she produced effortless and consistent power, making the second set very competitive.

The world number one was forced to save break points as she just managed to be more stable on big moments.

A more controlled second set from Swiatek was rewarded towards the end of the set as once again Sabalenka crumbled under pressure when it mattered.

Two late breaks of serve completed the Swiatek surge as the Pole enters the second Grand Slam of the season in dominant form.

As for Sabalenka it’s a disappointing performance that she will look to put right at Roland Garros.

Roland Garros starts on the 26th of May where Swiatek is defending champion.

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