Bondarenko, another tennis mum chases a dream

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - Kateryna Bondarenko poses with her second child at the Al Habtoor tennis event on Tuesday. Image Credit: Alaric Gomes/Al Khaleej Today

: Former Grand Slam champion Kateryna Bondarenko is pleased with herself in blending motherhood with tennis and achieving unfulfilled goals. Bondarenko — youngest of three sisters (Valeria and Alona being the other two) on the WTA Tour — delivered her second baby Eva eight months back. Her first child Karin, now six, is already in school but the youngest of the Bondarenko sisters does not see any of this coming in her way of being among the best all over again.

“I want to be in the top-20 in the next one and-a-half years. That would be a realistic and achievable goal I can set for myself,” Bondarenko told Al Khaleej Today on the sidelines of the ongoing 22nd Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge being held at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa.

“We’ve got far too many examples of mothers charting tennis careers long after they have spent time raising their children. I am no exception. I want to be the same and see how much more I can push myself in achieving greater heights in this sport that I love so much,” the 33-year-old added.

Bondarenko has been successfully balancing her personal and professional life since marrying her former coach Denis Volodko in September 2011. In 2013, the first baby arrived and Bondarenko managed to get back on to the court within a few months. The Ukrainian was back again at the courts within few months after the second baby was born earlier this year.

“I just love the feeling of being alongside these players. I love the challenges. I love the travelling and most of all I love that feeling of competing and winning,” she related.

Having turned pro in 2000, Kateryna teamed up with her older sister Alona to win the doubles at the 2008 Australian Open. After that success, her rankings shot up and Bondarenko reached a career high No 29 in the singles and No 9 in the doubles.

During her career, she has defeated some of the best in business including Elena Dementieva, Ana Ivanovic, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska, Roberta Vinci, Venus Williams and Garbine Muguruza in Dubai at the 2017 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Her best singles result at a Grand Slam was a quarter-final appearance at the 2009 US Open. “There’s no time to catch up on the singles,” she said.

“It’s fun having kids and still managing your time for training, exercise, fitness so that I can find the perfect balance between sport and life. Perhaps things were different earlier in my career, but now I know I can play without any sort of pressure on myself. My kids won’t care or judge me whether I am winning or losing,” Bondarenko related.

“This is what I enjoy and this is what I want to do as long as I can. I don’t know till when I want to play, but for sure, it is going to be many more years from now on,” she added.

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