Motherhood Meets Athletics

Navigating motherhood and athlete life

Mizuki Kinoshita (She/Her) // Contributor  
Xaviery Roxas (She/Her) // Illustrator 

Athletes are constantly balancing their responsibilities; training, overall performance, food consumption and/or diets, juggling relationships and keeping their mental health in check. Apart from a demanding career, they must also determine how to balance their professional and personal lives. 

For female athletes, they may come face to face with what could be a life-changing decision— their careers or motherhood. Pregnancy can take a toll on one’s body, one’s abilities and one’s mindset. It can often be assumed that female athletes have to give up their sport to pursue motherhood but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Many superstar athletes are pursuing both sports and motherhood.

One of the most famous athletes who demonstrated a good balance of navigating motherhood and her athletic career is Serena Williams. She was a professional tennis player in the U.S.A. who retired in 2022. She was one of the most popular and talented players in her sport. She has won tournaments like the Wimbledon Championships multiple times and has won four gold medals while competing in the Olympics. 

She currently has two kids. Her first kid, Olympia was born during her career in September 2017. Upon her return to training and games, she did face some challenges. When she gave birth to her baby, she suffered from a pulmonary embolism. The effects of her pulmonary embolism continued after her baby was born, so her return to training was delayed.

Three months postpartum, she played in an exhibition match which she lost. Furthermore, she decided to withdraw from a tournament in January 2018 due to a lack of training. She struggled that first year, balancing where she was previously in her career and her baby, but she never gave up. As a result, she placed No.10 in the female world ranking in 2019 after the US Open. Additionally in January 2020, Williams clinched her first singles title as a mother at the ASB Classic making history; the first woman in the professional era to secure at least one title in four consecutive decades: the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s.

Another famous female athlete who is still actively navigating her career amongst being a mom is Alex Morgan. She is a professional soccer player in the U.S.A., currently playing for San Diego Wave FC in the National Women’s Soccer League (NSWL). She has made many appearances in tournaments like the FIFA World Cups and the Olympics over the years as a player on the American National team. 

She gave birth to her baby girl in May 2020. After Charlie was born, she decided to withdraw from the NWSL Challenge Cup in June 2020. In September 2020, she returned to training. She was selected NWSL Player of the Month in May 2021. She was also named a FIFA FIFPro Women’s World11 (a fancy way of nominating the best players in the game) in 2023 for the sixth time in her career. 

In the past, female athletes were often having to choose between motherhood and their athletic careers. However, it’s been proven it’s not necessary to make such a binary decision; they can successfully pursue both paths simultaneously if they please. It’s the support they obtain from their spouses, parents, nannies, club staff and team members that help make it possible. 

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