Amandine Hesse cradles her baby daughter Stella in her arms while she waits for her match to commence at the KSLTA Stadium. With her partner Thomas by her side, Amandine is all smiles.
The French player became a mother in July last year. Amandine’s priorities have changed, and she couldn’t be happier.
“Before I had the baby, I was not feeling good. I needed something in my life - I needed to be a mom,” Amandine, who is competing in the KPB Trust ITF Women’s Open here, said on Friday.
“I used to put too much pressure on myself. When I lost a match, I would cry. Now when I see my daughter laugh, even when I lose, it makes everything easier. I understand what is truly important in life,” Amandine said.
On how her routines have changed since Stella arrived, the 30-year-old said, “I don’t sleep so well now (laughs). If I need to cancel practice to care of the baby, I will. Thomas takes great care of Stella; he makes things very easy for me. Stella is the star in the locker room. All the players want to carry her and talk to her. It’s great fun.”
After a year’s break, Amandine returned to the court in January this year. At the time of her hiatus, Amandine was the World No.165 - close to her career-best singles ranking.
When she rejoined the fray, Amandine did not have a ranking. It was difficult to start from scratch, and she was fortunate to receive a wild card entry to the qualifiers of the ITF W40 Macon in her home country. She did well to reach the quarterfinals at Macon and enter the world rankings. Amandine, currently the World No. 911, is now in a position to gain entry to tournament qualifiers.
The WTA allows mothers returning to the tour after giving birth to use their previous ranking to enter 12 tournaments. Amandine wants to build some confidence before availing of her protected ranking status. “I get only 12 tournament entries, so I have to choose wisely. Now that I have a world ranking, I can enter the qualifiers of some events. I will use these matches to find some rhythm and build self-confidence. When I start to feel good about my game, I will use my protected ranking entries,” Amandine said.
Amandine aims to better her career-best ranking. This will be a challenge, even as Amandine carries a bigger purpose than just winning tennis matches.
“My body is changing, everything is different now, but I have the respect of other players. I want to prove to women that they can have a baby and come back to playing professional tennis,” Amandine said.