Caroline Wozniacki up for the challenge of taking on ‘big three’ in women’s game
Caroline Wozniacki is confident she will be able to compete with the top players again when she comes out of retirement next month.
The former world number one, who has two children, announced last month she would be ending her three-year exile this summer and will return for the American hard court swing that begins after Wimbledon.
The 33-year-old, who won the 2018 Australian Open and reached two US Open finals, was at the top of the women’s game for the best part of a decade before she called time on her career in 2020.
Since then Iga Swiatek, Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka have broken away to form a ‘big three’ but Wozniacki says that if she can compete with Serena Williams then she should be able to hack it against the current crop of players.
Speaking ahead of her appearance in the women’s invitation doubles at Wimbledon, she said: “I have played them before, I know exactly what I am up against. I know they are playing extremely well and aggressive and consistent and it is going to be a tough challenge but I am up for the challenge.
“I have fought tough players before and fought my way around so I am going to do the same this time.
“Obviously there are a lot of good players out there and it is a high level of tennis but I played with the greatest of all time in Serena. She’s the best player I ever played and she isn’t around anymore so that feels good to me at the moment! I am happy not to have to play her anymore.
“I am not putting a time on how long I will play, just see how the body holds up, see how I feel, how the kids and everyone does.
“I am excited to be back and excited to be playing and hopefully it will be my best tennis yet.”
Wozniacki, who resumes her professional career in Montreal later this month, is one of several mothers who are playing on tour.
And the Dane believes she may now have less pressure when she is competing.
“I think for me, I will go out there and enjoy myself and play the way I have been practising and that is all you can do, give it the best when you are out there,” she said.
“My family and my kids is the most important thing in my life to me so I know that if I win or lose they won’t look at me any differently.
“It is going to be a great experience for us as a family to have the kids see a little bit of the world and meet new people and see new cultures. It is such a good learning experience for them so young before they go to real school.”
Kim Clijsters is a flagbearer in the modern era for returning to the tour after having children, winning the US Open in one of her first tournaments back by beating Wozniacki in the final.
And she says the Dane will need to get to grips with new challenges as she resumes her career.
“When you get into a situation like that when you’re a mother but you also become a professional athlete again, you have an expectation of how you did it before and the time that goes into it,” Clijsters said.
“That was for me a little bit hard at the beginning to balance, am I going to put six, seven hours a day focusing on myself again and how do I feel about that?
“You have to leave your daughter or your kids behind so I struggled a little bit with that in the beginning but then you learn that there’s other people that are really good at taking care of your kids too.
“I think that was a little bit of a challenge mentally to get that motherly instinct – you don’t push it aside but you have to balance that so you have enough of both. I think that will be probably the biggest challenge at the beginning.”