I am not old but I have lived a long life. I recall a time in the not too distant past where you were counselled not to put that you had young children on your CVs (when putting that on your CV was a thing) and if you were a young married woman that was something that was seen as a negative, as it was assumed that you would want to start a family and therefore would not be a 100% effective employee. This was not the 1950s. This was the 1980s and it happened worldwide.
I recall as a young woman just starting out with a young child how hard it was to prove to folks that I could do the job that I was hired to do notwithstanding that I had a young child at home. After all, the same mindset that led me to believe that I could have a career and a family, was the same one that made me put things in place to ensure that I not only spent quality time with my young child, but that I also had the ability to do 10 hours of tough legal work on a daily basis.
My son is now a millenial (30 something) with his own life and I am still in the legal field and now known as an elder. I am once again faced with the same questions when I have to deal with young lawyers. I am coveted for my experience, but I am also battered because I won’t stand for foolishness.
You may be asking yourself, why am I writing about myself on a tennis blog? Its because it would seem as if most commentators and tennis journalists don’t seem to think that women can walk and chew gum at the same time. Women are capable of being mothers, wives and working women. We do, as a matter of course, know how to compartmentalise and we don’t need to look to someone else for inspiration when we decide to embark on certain aspects of our lives.
There is a piece written by Christopher Clarey about Azarenka that speaks about her time off court and watching her mother battle breast cancer. During all this time Azarenka had to show up for work, then find out she is pregnant and then realise that not only does she have to put her career on pause, but she also has to try and be there for her family. This is what women do. We compartmentalise. We put things in order of priority and we do what needs to be done.
It is become tiresome, tedious and downright ridiculous listening to the commentators during this year’s Wimbledon marvel at Azarenka’s play. If Azarenka was television commentator would we be wondering if she can speak after having a child? Would we be wondering whether she became inspired after watching Brad Gilbert return from having surgery? We would not be asking these ridiculous questions. It is also going to get even worse when Serena Williams returns to the Tour after giving birth.
Maybe the time has come to remove men from the commentary box, especially when it comes to women’s matches. I for one have become bored with this whole conversation about Azarenka and her child. Women have been dropping children and going back to work since time began. It is what what we do. Many of us do not have the privilege of Azarenka (and I am not ragging on her) to have a nanny, a fitness trainer, a dietician or just very good genes, but we make do. Stop making it seem as if women are doing the impossible by having a child and returning to work. It may seem impossible to men but it is what we do every single day of our lives.