A couple of days ago I watched part of the women’s tennis final from the Brisbane International tournament. The match was between Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, two former World No. 1’s, both back from retirement. If the commentators were correct, before they both retired Henin had had the better of Clijsters in most of their clashes.
This match was different. Clijsters showed great power and strength to take the match from her countrywoman. But this blog is not to celebrate women’s tennis, arguably the greatest spectator sport in the world for a heterosexual man. This blog is about the strength of women.
Now, as far as I can tell from a mostly uninterested perspective, the major difference between the Kim Clijsters of 2007 and the current version was this: she became a mother.
I began to wonder what, if any, impact motherhood has on elite athletes. Does the act of childbirth tap into a well of strength and determination that the athlete never knew she had? When she gets into a do-or-die situation in her sport does she fight harder than she ever did before motherhood? Or does the opposite happen, where priorities shift so dramatically that nothing in her sport really seems so dire any more?
Of course, it may just have been Clijsters’s night, and she would have won, baby or not. It just got me wondering...