Cara Black didn't think she would ever play professional tennis again, let alone add a WTA title to the 54 she had previously won, but she might need to change her goals after winning the ASB Classic doubles title yesterday.
The reason for her doubts is eight months old - her son Lachie, to whom she immediately gave the thumbs-up after she and Australia's Anastasia Rodionova beat top seeds Julia Goerges and Yaroslava Shvedova 2-6 6-2 10-5.
The 33-year-old Zimbabwean, who lives in Melbourne, had Lachie and her husband on hand as she won the title in her first tournament after a two year absence.
The former world No1 doubles player needed a wildcard to play in Auckland. I Her ranking should jump quickly, especially if she plays as well as she did this week.
"It's a bit of a fairy tale," Black said. "I never thought I would play again, so anything now is a bonus. I thought that was it for me. But after having Lachie and having that time away from the game, which I had never had before because I had been pretty much injury-free my whole career, I just wanted to come back and give it another shot.
I think that mental break was a big difference for me."
It's so early in her comeback Black doesn't know what happens next. She doesn't know how many tournaments she will play or where but has a protected ranking that allows her to enter eight tournaments this year and wants to play in the Australian Open.
She sees anything now as a bonus after winning 54 doubles titles, including 10 grand slams and US$6.5 million in the first phase of her career.
"She pretty much knows everything about doubles," Rodionova said. " I think it's an amazing experience in general just to play with Cara because she knows a lot. It is different now she has a baby. I think she is way more relaxed on court."
They lost the first set 6-2 but rallied in the second set and took that momentum into the super tiebreaker, winning 10-5.
Lachie soon joined Black on court; it was an immediate reminder that life has more challenges.
"Just organising Lachie and my husband," she said. "Getting his food and everything prepared. Other than that, it's all so new and I have enjoyed every minute of it."
- APNZBy Michael Brown Email Michael