WIMBLEDON – It was certainly impressive that Serena Williams won the Australian Open while being as much as two months pregnant.
And it was also impressive that on the first day of Wimbledon, she posted footage of herself hitting tennis balls at seven months.
But give props to Luxembourg’s Mandy Minella.
When you looked at the score against Francesca Schiavone Monday in the first round at Wimbledon, it was the ultimate case of the score not telling the entire story.
Minella lost, 6-1, 6-1.
She is four and a half months pregnant, with a baby due at the end of the year.
Generally a glamourpuss on court, Minella wore a loose-fitting dress. But the baby bump was barely visible, if at all.
There wasn’t a huge crowd for the singles match. But Minella isn’t done yet. She plans to play doubles with Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova.
When word gets out to opponents Ipek Soylu and Varatchawa Wongteanchai – if it hasn’t already – they might be that much more hesitant to drill the ball near Minella.
It might actually work in her favour.
Had Minella been wearing that dress a year ago – when the Nike baby-doll dress was billowing in the wind on every female that wore it, it might have gone completely unnoticed.
Minella, currently ranked No. 82 in singles, lost in the first round of the French Open to Kirsten Flipkens in late May when she would have been three months along.
She also played doubles there, also losing in the first round.
The 31-year-old then played Bol, a $125K event during the second week of the French Open. There, she beat Nicole Gibbs and Kateryna Bondarenko and made the semifinals.
Minella also played every week of the grass-court prep season: ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Mallorca and Eastbourne. She went 0-for-3.
Why, you might ask, is she playing?
Simple. First-round losers in singles at Wimbledon earn 35,000 British pounds (about $45,000 US). First-round losers in doubles earn another 5,750 pounds (about $7,500 US).
There are going to be a lot of expenses coming up. She’d be crazy to leave that money on the table, to not get on the court as long as everything is going well.
Here’s a look at what Minella looked like on court – pre-pregnancy.
If Victoria Azarenka’s return six months after the birth of her son is any sort of trend, Minella will be back to this by next summer.
(By the way, it’s a girl!)