Oh, yeah! You know that babies are like catnip to the international media, especially when their mothers are winning, world-class athletes!
Last year during the Olympics, regarding the spate of stories about Darra Torres and other women athletes with children, I wrote about my bafflement about the ways in which women athletes who are mothers are represented in the media. I asked, “Why does anyone think that motherhood necessarily erodes or competes with athletic talent? Of course, not every mother physically gives birth to her children, but even for those who do, childbirth and its aftermath doesn’t necessarily alter the body in ways that would affect athletic performance.” Well, the Mother-Athlete of the Year has to be Kim Clijsters, whose surprise upset (on faults) at the U.S. Open against Serena Williams has put her in the spotlight. Once again, the English-language media find it utterly amazing that a 26-year old (26!) who has given birth can win the U.S. Open.
None of the broadcast or print media stories I’ve seen about Clijsters has failed to note that 1) she’s “a mom!” (or “mum!”), and 2) she had retired from tennis to focus on getting married and having a family. (Never mind that that’s what a lot of people do, in addition to their day jobs, and that male athletes seem to manage getting married and having lots of children without “taking time off”–like Clijsters’s husband, Bryan Lynch!) I understand the attraction of a comeback story, but this article from the Australian News really takes the cake. It doesn’t even mention Williams’s name, let alone anything about Clijsters’s victorious match against her. Check it out:
SUPER-mum Kim Clijsters hopes to complete some unfinished business in Australia after crowning her amazing comeback with a spectacular US Open triumph.
While unsure exactly how long her second career will last, Clijsters says a return to Melbourne Park in January for the 2010 Australian Open is definitely on her jam-packed agenda.
“I mean, my sister is about to have a baby in a couple of weeks and those are really important moments that I want to be home for,” the bubbly Belgian said. Continue Reading »