Balancing motherhood and tennis, Pironkova scores Open upset


NEW YORK (AP) — Tsvetana Pironkova smacked an ace on match point, part of the balancing act she made look easy from start to finish Thursday.

The shot punctuated a 7-5, 6-3 upset win over No. 10-seeded Garbine Maguruza in the second round of the U.S. Open, Pironkova’s first tournament after a three-year break to give birth to her son, Alexander.

“If you make a good schedule and have the right motivation, you can combine the two things, motherhood and being a professional tennis player,” Pironkova said. “It takes a lot of work but, you know, everything takes work.”

A 32-year-old Bulgarian, Pironkova gave birth to Alexander in April 2018. She is playing in her 12th Open but her first since 2016, and it’s her first tournament since Wimbledon in 2017.

“It’s just great to be playing without that extra pressure I had on myself before,” Pironkova said. “Before it was almost like a life and death situation for me to win a match. Right now it’s not really like that. It’s enjoyment to be on the court.”

Pironkova has no ranking because of her layoff, but she was a 2010 Wimbledon semifinalist, and is playing in the U.S. Open for the 12th time.

The win over Maguruza was Pironkova’s 22nd against a top-20 player.

“It’s not something super new,” Pironkova said. “I was moving well and hitting the ball well. Why not win?”

Reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin advanced to the third round by beating unseeded Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3. Amanda Anisimova won a matchup of American teenagers, rallying past wild card Katrina Scott 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.