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Moms In The Draw: These Seven Mothers Are Ready For Indian Wells
4 Min Read · March 6, 2024

“Let’s hear it for the working moms everybody!” 

These words rang out from tournament emcee Andrew Krasny during Monday’s BNP Paribas Open draw ceremony, as the names of mothers were placed in the women’s singles draw – again, and again. 


Thanks to rules enacted in late 2018 – which allow returning mothers more time to use their protected ranking to gain entry to tournaments – mothers have been given a better chance to come back and reach their previous highs on the WTA Tour. 

Since then, mothers doing more winning on Tour has become a bigger part of the fabric of women’s tennis. And a welcome source of inspiration for mothers – and fans – from all walks of life. 

At last year’s US Open, 10 mothers played the main draw, and in January, eight were present in this year’s Australian Open main draw. 

And at this year’s BNP Paribas Open, the trend continues in full force. Seven mothers have taken their place in the main draw, including four-time Grand Slam and 2018 Indian Wells Champion Naomi Osaka

In total, the moms in this year’s draw boast 10 Grand Slam titles, and 92 tour-level titles. 

For Osaka, who gave birth to her daughter Shai last July, motherhood has helped her recognize an inner strength that she didn’t previously know she possessed. 

“Becoming a mom changed my mindset a lot,” the four-time Major champion said earlier this year. “I'm a lot more open-minded, a lot more patient. But, also, I feel a lot stronger, physically. I think Shai definitely helped me with the way I view things.” 

For historical perspective, only three moms have ever won a Major title – Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong and Kim Clijsters, and a mother has never triumphed at Indian Wells. 

Could 2024 be the inaugural mom coronation at Indian Wells? Here’s a rundown of the seven moms that will make a play for the title this year. 

Victoria Azarenka (Son Leo, born in 2016) 

2012 and 2016 champion Azarenka gave birth to her baby boy Leo on December 19, 2016. The two-time major champion came close to becoming the fourth mother to win a Major title when she played the final at the 2020 US Open, but she fell in three sets to Naomi Osaka (more on her down the page). 

2011 BNP Paribas Open Champion Caroline Wozniacki signs autographs for fans on the Player Lawn.

Caroline Wozniacki (Daughter Olivia, born June 2021; Son James, born October 2022)

Last summer, former World No. 1 and 2018 Australian Open champion Wozniacki returned to the tour at the age of 33, rekindling a storied career that has seen her win 30 WTA titles (including the 2011 BNP Paribas Open) and spend 71 weeks at No. 1 (11th most all-time). On Wednesday, she commences her first Indian Wells appearance as a mom against China’s Lin Zhu

Elina Svitolina (Daughter Skai, born October 2022) 

Svitolina is the wife of ATP star Gael Monfils, and the couple welcomed their first child, Skai, in October of 2022. Not long after, Svitolina made a stunning return to the Tour, reaching the quarterfinals at Roland-Garros and the semifinals at Wimbledon last year. The No. 16-seed Ukrainian will face either Katerina Siniakova or Greet Minnen in the second round after a bye. 

Angelique Kerber (Daughter Liana, born February 2023) 

Just over a year removed from giving birth to her baby girl Liana, former World No. 1 and three-time Major champion Angelique Kerber is back on the Tour at the age of 36. 

“I think we are all trying to inspire each other,” Kerber said at this year’s Australian Open. “It is great to see moms coming back, and to be one of them. Especially now, I think it's also really interesting for the fans, for the people, to see us playing again.” 

Naomi Osaka (Baby Shai, born July 2023) 

Eight months after the birth of her daughter Shai, Osaka is already two months into her comeback to the Tour. Reunited with Coach Wim Fissette, the Japanese megastar returns to the BNP Paribas Open for the first time since 2022. 

Tatjana Maria (Daughters Charlotte, born December 2013, and Ceci, born April 2021)

In 2022, Maria made history at Wimbledon when, just a year removed from her second maternity leave, she became the first mother to reach a Wimbledon semifinal since 1975. She hopes to make more history this week in the desert – she faces Arantxa Rus in first round action on Wednesday. 

After making it through qualifying, American veteran Taylor Townsend will compete in the main draw at Indian Wells for the first time in five years.

Taylor Townsend (Son Adyn Aubrey, born March 2021) 

Since returning to the Tour as a new mother in the spring of 2022, Townsend has reached two Major doubles finals and rocketed up the doubles rankings (currently No. 11). The American qualified for her eighth Indian Wells main draw appearance – and first since 2019 – on Tuesday with a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 win over young talent Clervie Ngounoue

Though she has been back on the Tour for nearly two years since becoming a mother, Townsend still embraces the comeback mentality. 

“I don’t want to retire that story because I think that it’s incredibly powerful and I think that it inspires a lot of people,” she said. 

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