Playing her first tournament since Wimbledon 2017 and first since giving birth, Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova upset two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza 7-5 6-3 in the second round of the 2020 US Open.
One of nine mothers in the singles field this fortnight (alongside Victoria Azarenka, Kateryna Bondarenko, Kim Clijsters, Olga Govortsova, Tatjana Maria, Patricia Maria Tig, Serena Williams and Vera Zvonareva), the 32-year-old Pironkova felt comfortable as a full-time mom to her son Alexander, but she wanted to push herself and take a challenge in returning to the Tour. The motivation to get out of the comfort zone paid off:
I didn’t expect my first tournament to be so good.
Competing for the first time in over three years, Pironkova defeated Liudmila Samsonova on Tuesday to improve her record in first-round matches at the majors to 29-19 and then stunned the tenth-seeded Muguruza for her 22nd victory over a Top 20 player.
Currently unranked, Pironkova reached as high as No.31 on September 13, 2010 to become the highest ranked Bulgarian woman in WTA history. She’s playing the US Open under the protected ranking of No.123, benefiting from the WTA’s new special rankings protections for returning mothers:
Well [the WTA rule change] is actually one of the reasons I decided to come back because the opportunity is really great. I can play 12 tournaments with the ranking I last had when I stopped playing. Two of those tournaments can be Grand Slams, which is a huge opportunity as you can see. Here, because of the coronavirus, that was something in my favor. I got straight to the main draw and that is huge opportunity in my first match coming back. And we also had a little bit more time, because before we had two years to come back but now it’s three.
In the third round, Pironkova will play Croat 18th seed Donna Vekic.