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Wednesday, September 16, 2009



What a thoughtful, thought-provoking piece. (Even if your perspective differs a bit from mine.) I think a lot of the tension you describe can be traced back to the difference between the world we envision (where gender is irrelevant) and the world we inhabit (where motherhood carries a penalty and the physicality of pregnancy and childbirth can derail an athlete's career).


The one who spoke in English, Danish and Polish is the runner up, Caroline Wozniacki. Kim only spoke in English. She does speak Dutch and French too, though



Thanks for your comment and for articulating the source of the tension. In some ways, I guess, it goes back to the different strands of feminism in the US, and the way that one (of the many) focuses on the differences between women and men (a la the argument that if women were in charge, we wouldn't have war, poverty, etc.) and the other is more concerned with creating equal opportunities for women rather than stressing gender differences. An oversimplification of course, but one that is relevant.


Thanks for catching my error. In my enthusiasm for all things Clijsters, I misread the underlying article and attributed the multiple languages to Clijsters. (I think she speaks Flemish, too.) How gracious of Wozniacki!


Interesting post. As someone who does religiously follow tennis, I thought I'd offer my two cents. You wrote that you're "less positive, though, about all of the hype about her motherhood status," and you highlighted a noticeable absence of referencing Roger Federer's status as a father. To clarify, tennis commentators have and continue to comment on Roger Federer as a parent. They even joke that his overachievements on court have translated over to reproduction; the guy couldn't just have one baby and had two! After the birth of his twin daughters, many speculated if his performance on court would diminish due to the responsibilities of parenthood. Also, Roger's daughters are only about 2 months old, so there are no Kodak moments of them running around on court.

Yes, the media has had a field day with the "mom" puns when talking about Kim Clijsters, but I don't mind the constant highlighting. It's true that Roger is a great champion, but parenthood has not had the same biological implications on him as it does on women. Furthermore, I can only think of one other woman in the top 100 who is a mother. The fact that Kim did not compete for 2.5 years, had a baby, is a good mother, and came back to win the US Open in her 3rd tournament back is amazing!



Thanks for giving more context about RF than I previously had. Obviously, my quick Internet searches based on my curiousity about Clijsters didn't tell the whole picture. Still, I continue to be troubled by the whole emphasis on "mommyhood" although I in no way critical of Clijsters. Like you, I think it's amazing that she was able to win the Open with an 18-month old (particularly given the toll that pregnancy and childbirth take on our bodies) and do it with grace, finesse, and a sense of perspective about what really matters. Thanks for this comment.

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