Mary, Sania, Serena: Glorious Comebacks After Maternity Leave

Kangana Ranaut’s latest film Panga released on 24 January. Directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, it is the story of Jaya, a kabaddi player who struggles to find the balance between her responsibilities as a mother and her career as a sportsperson.

While this is a reel life story, there are many real life stories in which athletes from around the world are balancing their personal life and their profession life.

We have seen various women athletes across different sports making a comeback post maternity leave. And their stories are nothing but an inspiration to all.

From facing serious complications during childbirth to carrying their kids in their arms while taking a victory lap, these athletes have seen it all.

Let’s take a look at these five athletes who made a comeback after maternity leave:

Sania Mirza

Sania Mirza has been representing India for 17 years now. She made her debut in 2003 and there has been no looking back since then.

The 33-year-old is the highest ranked female player ever from India. She has won six doubles Grand Slam titles – including three in mixed – achieved the number one rank, won medals at multi-disciplinary events apart from winning the year-end WTA Finale title with Swiss great Martina Hingis.

Sania married Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik in April 2010 and gave birth to her son Izhaan Mirza Malik in October 2018.

Sania marked her comeback to tennis after two years with a women’s doubles title at the Hobart International.

Playing her first tournament after giving birth, Sania along with her doubles partner Nadiia Kichenok defeated China’s Peng Shuai and Zhang Shuai in the finals to lift the Hobart international trophy.

"“Coach of the Week goes to my son, he’s sleeping right now though. It’s extremely special for me to be here with my baby. I never thought I’d be competing at the very best level against the very best teams in the world so I felt extremely grateful.”" - Sania Mirza, Tennis PlayerSerena Williams

Serena Williams in an American Tennis player. She has won 23 major single titles, the most by an man or women in Open Era.

Serena reached the No 1 ranking for the first time on 8 July 2002 and have been on that position on eight separate times since then.

Serena Williams got married to reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in November 2017.

On 1 September 2017, Williams gave birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. But the birth of her daughter came with some complications. She had a cesarean-section delivery due to a pulmonary embolism during labor.

The former world no.1 suffered another pulmonary embolism after giving birth, leaving her bedridden for six weeks and delaying her return to training.

But nothing could stop her. She made a comeback on the tennis court for an exhibition match at the World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi where she lost to reigning French Open champion Jeļena Ostapenko.

In July 2018, she reached her first Wimbledon final since giving birth to her daughter.

"“This is not inevitable for me, I had a really tough delivery and multiple surgeries and almost didn’t make it to be honest. I couldn’t even walk to my mailbox, so it’s definitely not normal for me to be in a Wimbledon final but I’m enjoying every moment.”" - Serena Williams, Tennis Player

Also Read: Serena Stunned! Loses in 3 Sets to Wang, Knocked Out of Aus Open

Nia Ali

Nia Ali is an American track and field athlete. She specialises in the 100 m hurdles, heptathlon and other events.

Ali is married to an American Olympian Michael Tinsley who is also a track and field athlete.

Nia took a year off in 2015 to give birth to her son Titus. She returned to the track in the very next year and successfully defended the World Indoor Championships title. After winning, she carried her son on the victory lap.

In 2018, she gave birth to her daughter Yuri. Next year she won the world championship in 100-meter hurdles and again in the victory lap, she carried both her children along with her.

"“Just because you’re a mom doesn’t mean that you can’t get out here and continue to be an athlete as well, a top, world-class athlete. I know [Yuri] is going to look up to me and look at this and it’s definitely going to keep her motivated and show what strength really looks like to be able to go through this and train hard and be on top.”" - Nia Ali, Athlete Mary Kom

Mary Kom is an Indian olympic boxer. She is the only woman to become World Amateur Boxing champion for record six times and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the first seven World Championships.

The 36-year-old is also the only boxer (male or female) to win eight World Championship medals.

Mary is married to footballer Karung Onkholer and has three kids. She gave birth to twins in 2007 and then another son in 2013.

Post the maternity leaves in both the occasions, Mary managed to make impressive comebacks into the boxing ring.

Once she was asked how she stayed fit despite taking regular breaks from training, she said it was because of her determination to return to the ring.

"“It is a miracle that after several cuts, I still am fit enough to train hard and continue to play this far. All glory to God, who healed my wounds. It is also partly because of my faith and strong determination not to give up.”" - Mary Kom, India BoxerShelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce is a Jamaican track and field sprinter. In 2008, the 21-year-old became the first Caribbean women to win 100 m gold at the olympics.

In the very next olympics in 2012, she became the third women in history to succesfully defend an olympic 100m title.

In January 2011, Shelly-Ann married her long-term boyfriend Jason Pryce.

Fraser-Pryce said she sat on her bed and cried the day she found out she was pregnant. Not too much after that, she heard people saying it might be time to quit.

"“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I knew how I felt and I knew I wasn’t ready to go. I had something left to do, and I stayed focused on the goal.”" - Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Jamaican Athlete

On 7 August 2017, she gave birth to her son Zyon.

Only moments after Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce zoomed past the finish line in the 2019 World Championships, she scooped up something more precious than gold.

Her 2-year-old son Zyon came down to the track to join her for the victory lap. What a fitting way to celebrate the Jamaican speedster's fourth and hardest-earned 100-metre title at world championships.

"A victory for motherhood!" Fraser-Pryce said.

Also Read: Aus Open: Sania Mirza Pulls Out of Mixed Doubles Due to Injury

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