Having everything doesn't come easy

Updated: 2012-10-04 07:42

(China Daily)

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Editor's note: During the China Open, China Daily will collaborate with the WTA to bring you columns from various women's players in an effort to provide insight into life on the tour.

Hi everybody! I am Yan Zi.

I'm the new mother of a 10-month-old, and a tennis player again.

I am so excited to be back after a year-and-a-half break, although my body does still hurt after matches.

I'm a bit disappointed that Zheng Saisai and I lost our first-round doubles match to another Chinese pair, Tian Ran and Tang Haochen, 6-3, 1-6, 11-13.

Other than that, it's been awesome to return to the tennis world. The best part has been seeing all my friends again. Seeing so many familiar faces hanging around the court greeting my return feels really good.

Having everything doesn't come easy

Of course, they are more interested in my baby than me. Lots of friends including Samantha Stosur, Ekaterina Makarova and Victoria Azarenka asked me "Did you bring your baby to us"? Everybody wants to know her name, how big she is, whether she looks more like me or her dad it's a lot of fun. A lot of them also told me my body recovered pretty well, and that pleased me a lot.

Yeah, my body looks good, but it actually feels painful. When I went back to practice this June, my legs, knees and wrists hurt every night after training. Sometimes, I couldn't even walk. That's probably the cost of having a baby I guess. And I sort of enjoyed the process of recovering.

Still, I feel I've regained most of my touch and pace after a few matches on the court. Today was a good test, although I got pretty nervous at the beginning in such a big stadium. My fitness is OK for the doubles competition now, but I'm still missing some of my focus and reflexes.

Lots of people asked why I came back when I already have Grand Slam championships the Australian Open and Wimbledon doubles in 2006 - and have a family.

The decision came about when I played with a friend while trying to lose some weight. Honestly, I totally forgot how to play. I didn't know how to swing a basic forehand or how to move on the court. I threw my racket in a corner and kept it out of my sight for 17 months.

But after that, I asked myself why I couldn't come back the way some other foreign players have after giving birth. I figured I could at least contribute in doubles.

By the way, my husband and my whole family supported my return. They know I've invested more than 20 years in tennis, so why not continue?

The problem now is maintaining my emotional bond with my baby while I am not at home. I'm not going to play as many tournaments as I did before. I will try to pick up events near China, and I won't spend more than a month at overseas tournaments.

When I'm on tour, I keep in contact with my daughter via phone calls and video. I know I need to spend as much time as possible with my daughter - that's what a new mom has to do.

As far as next year goes, I am still struggling with whether to play the Australian Open or not. It's a nice event full of wonderful memories for me, but my daughter will have her birthday during that period. A tough choice, isn't it?

Yan Zi is a 27-year-old doubles specialist who gave birth to her daughter in January. She won two Grand Slam doubles titles (Australian Open and Wimbledon) with Zheng Jie in 2006.

China Daily