Mother-On-Tour Yan's Guangzhou Return
Published September 14, 2012 12:00
GUANGZHOU, China - The most famous mother-on-tour may have just called it a career, but there's another one just about to get started. Yan Zi, one of the original Chinese trailblazers, will make her comeback to the WTA at the GRC Bank Guangzhou International Women's Open in Guangzhou next week.
Along with the likes of Li Ting, Sun Tiantian, Li Na and Zheng Jie, Yan was part of a gang of Chinese players who blazed a trail on the WTA in the early-to-mid 2000s, the first wave of milestones coming in 2004 with Li Ting and Sun's Olympic gold medal in doubles in Athens and Li Na becoming the first Chinese player ever to win a WTA title in singles at, coincidentally, Guangzhou.
Yan and Zheng may have had the biggest milestone though - they brought home China's first Grand Slam title of any kind with a win in the women's doubles at the Australian Open in 2006, even following it up with a second such triumph at Wimbledon later that year. Yan would also follow Li Na's footsteps and win a WTA title in singles at Guangzhou in 2005 (now four Chinese have done it).
Yan enjoyed several more successful seasons on the WTA, making it as high as No.40 in singles and No.4 in doubles, and then in May 2011 left the tour as a little one was on the way - Iza, who was born on January 17, 2012.
Yan caught up with wtatennis.com during her time away earlier this year.
"During the year I was away from the courts, everything I did was for my baby, from waiting for her to be born to taking care of her and playing with her," Yan said. "But at the same time, I still keep my eyes on tennis - sometimes I watch the matches on TV and sometimes on live scores, but I've been watching!"
Yan mentioned during that interview she would be coming back to the WTA to play doubles. "I'm planning to, yes, because I don't want to give up on tennis. But as I have a baby to take care of now, I can't be on the road too much. So I will play doubles at some tournaments. I'm looking forward to playing again!"
Back then the return date was undetermined though - now it's set in stone.
"The China Open is the biggest tournament in Asia, and it's in China, so I think it's the best choice for my return - but as it's such a high-level tournament with a strong field, I've decided to start in Guangzhou, which will be a good warm-up.
"I'm playing with Zhang Ling in Guangzhou, then Zheng Saisai in Beijing."
Yan, who said she has been playing well in practice but wants to work more on her fitness, will try to balance motherhood and professional tennis, something very rare on the WTA at the moment, especially with the recent retirement of the queen of all mothers-on-tour, four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters.
"Family is still my first priority, so I will have to be selective of how many tournaments to play," Yan explained. "But when I play, I'll try my best!"
With Clijsters' departure, only one other mother is playing consistently at the WTA level - doubles player (and two-time mom) Lindsay Lee-Waters.
Check out Yan's catch-up interview from earlier in the year - and an adorable picture of Yan's baby, Iza - by clicking here, and also check out all kinds of news from China on our Chinese-language website, www.wta.cn!